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Sharing About Giving: Sparks of the Divine

The Archetype of the Virgin Warrior: An Astrological Study

Brunnhilde

IN A SLIGHT DEPARTURE FROM THE THEME OF THIS BLOG, I SHARE MY NEW YEAR'S GIFT TO ALL ARIES AND VIRGO WOMEN AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM.

AFTERALL--IT'S ALL ABOUT GIVING, ISN'T IT? 

 

No need to worry! You can be married or partnered and still fall into the archetype of the virgin warrior. Perhaps you know well your forthright and impeccable drive to make a difference. Perhaps you remember childhood wish to be like Lady Marion in the Robin Hood legends. Or of wishing to emulate Robin Hood himself. Perhaps you loved climbing trees, playing at wild horses, running through the woods imagining yourself as a hero or heroine bringing a villain to justice.

 

As a small child my mother let me run freely in the woods at our mountain cabin. I'd spend hours searching for wolf prints on the trails in the forest and imagining myself as a friend to the wolves. In pre-teen years my friends and I galloped our horses across the grassy hills and explored along creeks and canyons. Rode into the ocean waves bareback. Most virgin warrior women excel at sports and dancing. Perhaps playing an ancient drum for a women's ceremony might appeal. The tom boy or eternal girl (puella eterna) might also describe the virgin warrior.

 

I began to identify, and then to understand the archetype of the virgin warrior while watching Richard Wagner's four Ring Cycle operas "The Nibelung's Ring." In fact, I was stunned. Suddenly I found myself there in the character of the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, the god Wotan's eldest and most beloved daughter, born of Erda the Earth Goddess. The beautiful Valkyries during their teen years joyously ride their horses through the sky and down into battlefields where they fetch fallen warriors and carry them to Valhalla to join all the beloved heroes who live in eternal bliss in the Norse heaven built at the command of the god Wotan.

 

Brunnhilde epitomizes the archetype of the virgin warrior—in her life as the Valkryie and later as Siegfried's betrothed. The virgin warrior lives deeply within what C. G. Jung calls the collective unconscious, and for this reason many women will find her active in their lives at one time or another, or at least recognize the qualities in others.

 

Virgin here refers to impeccable, a tendency towards a sparkling clarity in approach to a task or to life itself. Warrior represents the energetic one-pointed focus towards accomplishing a task or goal. Virgin warrior is the alchemical outcome of these two qualities—and she strives to make a difference in the world

 

Aries and Virgo will be featured in part or in full, in the charts of women who live with a virgin warrior archetype. If you are Aries or have Aries Moon or Ascendant; or if Mars is prominent in your astrological chart, and you also have the essential Virgo element, you most probably identify well with this archetype.

 

ARIES

 

Aries the first sign in the zodiac, is a cardinal fire sign ruled by Mars. Aries is often known as the adolescent of the zodiac, willing to go off on adventures and invite excitement into their lives, often with little forethought. Given that the head rules Aries, and with the image of the butting Ram, Aries can tend to be head-strong and argumentative, with a clear-cut sense of what is right and wrong, no questions asked.

 

With all of these firm, yet potentially annoying qualities, we are attracted to the Aries' magnetic and warm personality, overflowing with a joy of life, and a willingness to explore the unknown without fear of consequences. Aries natives are often athletic or enjoy dancing, especially dance with a strong beat. Their bodies usually are strong and lithe. With the Aries people I have encountered, there is often a definite sense of purpose and a nobility of spirit that pervades the personality

 

Many of us might jump to the conclusion that with Aries's ruler Mars as god of war, that battle and a contentious nature alone will define the Mars-dominated person. To a certain degree, such a delineation is warranted, as most people with strong Mars tend to find themselves in both verbal and/or even physical fights. Yet upon examination there is more to delve into than a mere battlefield nature.

 

Mars people can usually be depended upon to accomplish just about any mission. They will have a determined sense of a goal and strive for it. They will go about work, no matter what kind of work, with an enthusiastic let's-get-it done attitude, even when the task might be as humble as restocking the fruit and vegetable section of a supermarket. The highest nature of Mars is the ability to zero in and get to the core of an issue or job or concern.

 

VIRGO

 

Virgo, an Earth sign with Mercury as ruler, excels at organization, planning, and sorting out details. Mercury assures that they are the quintessential messenger. The kind of writing or communication we might expect from Virgos will be colored by the position of Mercury in the chart and its planetary aspects. On the downside, while being focused on detail, Virgo sometimes misses the larger picture, the proverbial missing forest for the trees. Depending on the other elements in the chart, Virgos can end up in the healing arts. In fact, they will be accomplished in whatever occupation they choose. Virgos have a need to be useful and to help their fellow humans. I've noticed they make good librarians, and in that capacity they serve the public with graciousness and humility.

 

But what about the Virgin symbol for Virgo? The image alone lets us know that the Virgo personality can be complicated, say nothing of confusing, since they might harbor a secret, or overt, wish to be a nun, and yet at the same time long also to be in loving partnership. (Conflicts of opposites exist in all signs of the zodiac). Vestal Virgins in Greek mythology lend depth and breadth to understanding the meaning of the Virgin image; these "Virgins" kept the temples lamps lit and guarded the sacred space. While Virgos will long for partnership, I've found that they often encounter relationship obstacles. The notion of keeping watch over sacred space sheds further light onto the inner workings of Virgo: "Virgin" implies an expectation of a flawless nature in self and other. Even a secret wish for a marriage with a god. Who can attain it? Who can expect it? But, nevertheless, there will be a deep longing for the impeccable partner. Reminiscent of the immaculate conception.

 

 

THE STORY OF BRUNNHILDE

 

Dressed in Valkyrie armor, carrying her shield and spear, Brunnhilde bounds onto a craggy mountain ledge with a classical Aries/Mars energy. She calls out to her father Wotan with her battlefield cry: "Heyo ho! Heyo ho!" In her teen years she is very much an Aries tom boy, and in her beauty she typifies Virgo. She is devoted to her father and to her task as Valkyrie, which in Virgo fashion she discharges impeccably. Using their magic spells to insure the outcome of who lives and who dies in battle is one of the jobs of the virgin Valkyries. Now on the mountain top, Wotan instructs Brunnhilde to ride to an imminent battle between Wotan's son Siegmund and his lover's abusive husband; Brunnhilde is to ensure that Siegmund wins the fight.

 

However, the hand of destiny interferes with Wotan's plans when his wife Fricka, a picky and bossy wife, convinces Wotan that he must support marriage vows and that Siegmund must die in the duel. (Remember: Siegmund's lover has a husband). Wotan falls into despair and seeks Brunnhilde for comfort.

While Brunnhilde sits with her arms around her father's knees, Wotan reveals to her everything about his life—his broken contracts, his uncontrollable desires, his lust for power, his failure with his wife and his lovers, including Brunnhilde's wise mother Erda. During Wotan's confession, we witness a deep emotional relationship between father and daughter. In Virgo fashion we imagine Brunnhilde sees the perfect man in her father. After his confession he orders her to assure that Siegmund's enemy will win the battle.

 

Brunnhilde is stunned. Her obedient Virgo nature falls by the wayside when with Aries-style belligerence she refuses to follow his command, because it is not his will. He thumps his sacred staff on the ground, causing a thunder-like rumble, and again he demands it. Subdued, Brunnhilde rides off on her horse to perform the nasty deed.

 

Brunnhilde quietly approaches the lovers who are resting on a flat boulder. Brunnhilde is touched when she observes the sweetness of two people so thoroughly in love, not something she has ever seen. Brunnhilde's half-brother Siegmund asks the Valkyrie why she has come. She tells him that only the warriors who see her, are the ones destined to die. He questions her further, and when Siegmund learns he cannot take his lover to Valhalla, he raises his sword to kill himself and his lover. In Aries/Mars swiftness of action, Brunnhilde thrusts her shield in front of Siegmund's sword. She persuades him by letting him know that his lover is with child and will bear him a son.

 

Brunhilde, deeply moved by the depth Siegmund's devotion to his lover (the Virgo purity of it), in an act of Aries/Mars independence and righteousness, she resolves to go against her father's command and assure victory for her half-brother.

 

The battle begins. But just as Brunnhilde is orchestrating the outcome in favor of Siegmund, Wotan arrives and breaks his son's sword. The cruel husband kills Siegmund.

 

Brunnhilde is in big trouble after disobeying her father. She scoops up Siegmund's lover and in haste the two ride away across the sky to a mountain top. The sky flashes with lightening as Wotan chases after her on his horse. Meanwhile Brunnhilde comforts Siegmund's lover, and she announces that her child will be named Siegfried. She advises the pregnant mother to head in the direction of a dragon's lair and to look for shelter nearby; Wotan will not venture near the dragon, and she will be safe as she brings her baby to term.

 

Wotan, in a terrible wrath, lands on the mountain top amidst a roar of thunder. He delivers Brunnhilde's punishment: "You will no longer be a Valkerie, no longer be immortal, no longer serve me in Valhalla. I will put you to sleep on the mountain top, where you will be fair game to the first man who comes along and awakens you with a kiss." A punishment that is in total in opposition to the Virgo ideal of purity and grace.

 

Brunnhilde is horrified. All is silent for some time until Brunnhilde speaks. With Aries pride and Virgo discernment she quietly defends her actions. "What I did was not so bad, Father. I was only doing your will."

 

With his anger is somewhat subdued, Wotan explains, "I changed my mind."

 

Another long silence pervades the stillness of the mountain top. In a moment of Virgo brilliance and Mars indomitable spirit, Brunnhilde jumps up and offers a solution: "Father!" she says, "What will everyone think when they see that Wotan's daughter Brunnhilde has ended up as no more than a chattel maid. Please ignite a fire all around ledge where I sleep, a fire that only a great hero would dare pass through."

 

Wotan embraces his daughter and agrees to her proposal, acknowledging her brilliance. He puts her to sleep and then invokes the Norse god Loki to encircle the area with a magic fire.

 

After many years the now 18-year-old Siegfried has killed the dragon and retrieved the ring of power and all the gold the dragon had hoarded. (The ring had been forged by the dwarf, Nebilungen, in retaliation against the Rhine Maidens who'd rejected his love advances. The dwarf cursed the ring, saying that whoever owns the ring of power has to forsake love as the price).

 

Siegfried receives a message from a little bird to go to a certain mountain top. There he braves the fire and awakens Brunnhilde. They fall passionately in love. In Virgo fashion she sees in him the perfect man, and she worries he might not feel the same. He says he does.

 

Trouble begins when he decides to venture out and explore the world and discover his purpose. (Siegfried was raised in the woods and never knew any humans, only the evil dwarf's equally evil brother who raised him.) Brunnhilde, preferring to stay behind and wait for his return, creates a protective shield on his body (she has her powers back now). Sealing their betrothal vows, she gives him her horse and he gives her the ring of power, the ring he had won after killing the dragon, near the lair where he was born. All the gods and humans who know about it and the evil dwarf, crave to own it.

 

Siegfried accepts an invitation into a wealthy household along the Rhine. The son of the evil dwarf who forges the ring of power, lives with the family. The Nibelung's son, contriving to steal the ring, manipulates Siegfried into betraying his betrothal vows with Brunnhilde. Siegfried returns to Brunnhilde and because of the drug the dwarf's son gave him, he does not recognize her, but he carries her down the mountain to be married to his new friend.

Now down from the mountain, Brunnhilde expresses her inconsolable grief combined with livid anger (Aries). Seeking revenge (Mars) and to right a wrong (Virgo), she reveals to the power-hungry son of the Nibelung the vulnerable spot in Siegfried's protective shield. The Nibelung's son plunges his spear into Siegfried's back.

 

Betrayal or not, Brunnhilde still loves Siegfried and eulogizes his greatness and speaks to the beauty of his weaknesses, similar to those of her own father Wotan, Siefried's grandfather. The Rhine Maidens convince Brunnhilde that in order to redeem the gods and free the world from the curse of the ring of power, she must return the ring to the Rhine. At the end, with Virgo perfectionism and Aries one-pointed fiery determination, Brunnhilde tosses the ring to the Rhine Maidens and rides her horse into Siegfried's funeral fire to be forever joined with him in the hereafter.

 

Her swift action of returning the ring of power to the Rhine Maidens allows for peace to return to the world. No more greed for power and wealth, thus allowing the earth to be restored to balance and harmony. Meanwhile Wotan lights a fire to burn Valhala, the Norse heaven built by the failed power-hungry god. Thus, we witness the end of an era of corruption. The lovers' funeral pyre represents the phoenix bird, transformed and rising from the ashes, and a rebirth of an age of innocence and beauty.

 

CONCLUSION

While most of us certainly would never ride into a funeral pyre to join our lover, the archetype of such an act might be felt or seen in other ways. Powerful emotions. Bravery at all costs. Loyalty no matter what. A belief in the purity of love. A commitment to one's dharma. A desire for revenge in the face of betrayal. Crystal clarity when all is said and done. All of these qualities feed into the virgin warrior's sense of purpose.  

 

I've been pondering archetype of the virgin warrior for many years. In this time when women, with feminine grace and love and nurturing nature of a mother, have attained a visible presence in all fields. Women's voices are being expressed in great numbers all over the world, their input respected in high places of government and through their powerful presence as spiritual leaders.

 

Perhaps it's time to take notice of the archetype of the virgin warrior. In what ways does she live within us? How can we keep watch over the sacred fire in the temple of our lives? How can we offer our inborn gifts, impeccably, and with conviction in the smallest ways every day? Amma, who has an enormous charitable network that has an impact on the world, says, "Do not be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world; light your one candle and step forward."

 

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