Once upon a time, we were visited twice each month by a marvelous woman who cleaned our house. The place felt terrific after Angela had been here – not just clean, but calm. Centered. It was as though the place had been Rolfed instead of merely mopped and dusted.
Angela came to us through our elderly neighbor, Mildred. One day, after Angela had been coming to our house for about a month, I thanked Mildred again for the referral and remarked how wonderful and peaceful our place felt when Angela was finished with her work. Mildred nodded, sagely. “Oh, she’s a very spiritual person,” she said.
Yes, I thought, that’s exactly right. Angela was devoutly religious, but she never spoke of it. Rather, her spirituality was something that came through in the way she approached her work with a spirit of care and gentleness, and something else I can only call magic. Hers was the practical, everyday magic of smoothing the wrinkles from the linens, making the woodwork gleam, and leaving the floors shiny – but with an extra dash of cheerful calm that transformed this simple work into something more.
This ability to settle and soothe the discord of daily life is the practical magic of Virgo. Ordinarily when I think of magic, it’s the heady style of Scorpio that springs to mind, a fragrant and thrilling pastiche of pentacles, black velvet, and patchouli. As for spirituality, that adjective has always belonged, in my mind, to my Pisces friends, warm and sweet-natured, unfailingly compassionate, and full of concern and good works for a wide range of social causes.
But most of us are not full-time priestesses or everyday saints. We’re just people with jobs, carpools, and colicky pets. We may wish for more time – and tranquility – to spend in meditation, but it’s Virgo and the sixth house that represent the everyday world where we spend most of our time. Do we feel well? Do we have work to do? Is there bread for tomorrow’s breakfast? Traffic snarls, paying the bills, balancing the checkbook, washing the dishes: this is the Virgo stuff our days tend to be made of.
Going to worship services and participating in other formalized rituals can be beautiful, meaningful. These are moments when we get to step outside of our routines and examine our spiritual progress with an objective eye, unencumbered by the distractions of regular life. But for most of us, formal ritual has to be carved out of days that are already bulging at the seams. When we leave our formalized ritual spaces, we need a method of pursuing our lofty spiritual goals in the real world, ideally one that capitalizes on the fifteen waking hours each day that most of us spend just taking care of business. Enter Virgo, who asks, what if each part of your day, tasks great and small, could be a catalyst for your spiritual growth?
At this Virgo New Moon, pledge yourself to a renewed spirit of practical magic – of reorganizing your daily routine so that it is supports your spiritual objectives, and resetting your mental routine so that it instinctively seeks spiritual opportunity in chores and details. Clean out your drawers, your filing cabinet, your heart; sew buttons, darn socks, mend relationships; donate, volunteer, and pledge yourself to causes that are important to you. Candles, herbs, incense, and gemstones are fine tools for accessing our higher selves, but so are brooms, mops, and dustpans.
This New Moon is in an opposition to Neptune in dreamy Pisces, and getting focused is a big part of this work. Here’s how I learned that lesson the hard way one long ago Virgo New Moon. Determined to rid our home of stagnancy and tension, I threw myself into performing a ritual from the wonderful book The Magical Household, by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington. “Peel nine lemons,” it read, “then soak the peels in a bowl of water.” Then my eyes skipped ahead to a passage about using the water to clean the floors, the windows, and the doorknobs of the house.
I set to work. First I picked nine juicy lemons off the tree in our back yard, carefully peeled them, and made my lemon water. Three hours later, I had cleaned the house pillar to post, even rubbing the wood floors with a rag misted with the lemon water. Exhausted, I slumped into an easy chair to admire my work. I picked up The Magical Household, still laid open to the page with the ritual, and read it again. Halfway through I stopped, did a double-take, and laughed out loud. It seems I had overlooked one crucial passage: “Next, still visualizing, scrub the floors, doorknobs, and windows with the lemon water.”
Oh, well. The house needed a good cleaning anyway. And after my labors, it gleamed, bright and clean – the cleanest it had been, probably, since Angela’s last visit. I sat for awhile and enjoyed the peaceful, mind-emptying contentment that follows happy physical labor, watching as the light slowly changed and a peaceful dusk settled on shiny floors and glinted through sparkling windows. Thanks to a little practical magic and a lot of elbow grease, the house felt peaceful and relaxed for the first time in a long time. And for a moment, at least, I felt like a very spiritual person.
Writing and collages © 2004-2024 April Elliott Kent
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