Cooking Under the Virgo Sun

In last weekends newspaper liftout was a story about Kiwi born Melbourne chef Ben Shewry collecting wild nettles by the side of a Melbourne laneway. Collecting wild things is something that forms the basis of this chefs’ produce supply. But then again, this is a chef who describes one of his signature dishes as a potato cooked hangi style in a tin of its own soil. Can’t get much closer to nature than that.

I am not sure whether it was Saturn spending 2 ½ years in Virgo or something else, but I am now seeing every where a more healthy or earthly based cuisine. Or perhaps it is simply a function of the Sun in Virgo and a changing of the season? The cover of this months’ Australian Gourmet Traveller is one of the most naturally beautiful this year. Check it out here. With the quality and variety of produce available, it makes you want to, in the words of my Guru Edina Monsoon “eat food with the dirt still on it, darling.”

Whenever we talk about cooking simple and healthy foods (like the Quinoa, broad bean & preserve lemon salad on the front of this magazine) we are talking about Virgo. Whenever we discuss the latest superfood, such as this article about Black Rice (which incidentally is brilliant combined with coconut milk and turned into an Asian pudding) we are straying into Virgo territory.

Virgo can be as precise in her food preparation as she is with other things in her life. I know one Virgo who apologised before serving her meal because the recipe had called for desiree potatoes and she was only able to get Pontiacs, and she hoped we didn’t mind too much. Naturally we didn’t- she is a brilliant cook- she just wanted to make sure her meal was as good as it possibly could be.

Whilst Virgo can be discriminating when it comes to food choices, she may, with Libra on the 2nd cusp, have just a tad of a weakness towards sugar and other sweet foods, but she does generally have the ability to make the wisest choice for her own health.

Having said that the Virgo/ Pisces, 6th/12th house axis is the axis of addictions, and it is in this axis that we can potentially see eating disorders…although that is very definitely a subject for an entirely different post (or set of posts).It is for this reason that Virgo can, particularly if their boundaries or sense of boundaries are compromised can either be addicted to food, or addicted to disordered eating patterns…although I would never be irresponsible enough to pronounce this without looking at an individual chart.

Virgo does well on earth based foods- grains, whole foods, anything to do with the harvest. Virgo also does well on semi vegetarian type diets (generally the ones where you don’t eat anything that has eyelashes) or food combining diets (things like not mixing dairy with flesh etc). Food is best quality for value produce, cooked well and simply under good food preparation conditions. Make sure you have some yoghurt for good digestive health and you are cooking with Virgo.

This months’ recipe comes from the pages of Australian Gourmet Traveller. This Seared Skirt Steak, Green Papaya and Roasted Rice salad by WA Chef Matt Stone is Virgo on a plate… why not give it a go this weekend? Perhaps with a chilled Riesling to satisfy the Piscean opposite.

For a vegetarian option, from the same website, here is a warm salad of Mushrooms with many Olives. I have prepared this one with a variety of mushrooms from the local farmers market and it is the perfect Sunday supper- especially for all you Northern hemisphere readers moving into Autumn. Enjoy.

Ab Fab, De-tox and Security Blankets

And this is my final word (:)) on Taurus…

I haven’t been able to breathe this week… literally… In fact, talking & breathing is currently the equivalent of multi-tasking… and we all know now that there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Sleeping and breathing at the same time has also been a challenge.

Aside from the annoyance value of not being able to breathe, I am truly angry and frustrated. All the hard work I have been doing at the gym has just been un-done & will take at least a few weeks to get my lungs back on track. Patience is not something I excel at.

Anyway, today I hit rock bottom, which means a day on the lounge with a blankie, trackies and ugg boots, DVDs, IQ and feeling stir crazy and oh so sorry for myself. I cried through my favourite period drama until I realised that crying and breathing is not recommended. So, out came Ab Fab.

I randomly hit on series 4- the Detox episode. On a girls night out, which is every night frankly, because no one has a man, the girls are talking about how every racehorse needs a donkey (symbolically speaking) as 2 racehorses in the same stable would, as Patsy so eloquently put it, “kick the shit out of each other”. The girls then brought this around to attachments.

Magazine Girl to Katy Grin: Everyone has their crutches, their security blanket- being mean is yours.

Eddie: I haven’t got one

(all the girls laugh)

Katy: You’re fat. Surely you can see that, we certainly can’t miss it!

Katy: What’s yours Patsy?… Its obvious… the 60’s forelock. Put it back, lets see what you look like  under there….at least you can pin your fringe back whereas you (turning to Eddy) you can’t pin your fat back.

Eddy has an epiphany and decides to reinvent herself into a luggage-less version of herself. Her fat is her excess baggage. She embarks on a detox (nobody diets these days, darling) with the aim that in 3 weeks time she wants to be on the cusp of organ failure, an x-ray with a pulse…

Eddy for all her “out there” behaviour and spotlight hogging, swallows her real feelings and accumulates things around her to guard against tomorrow. When Pats says “your stomach is like a dog that doesn’t know when it is going to be fed next and just hangs around until you want to kick it,” she is talking about a reluctance to trust that abundance will continue. (Patsy, on the other hand, hasn’t eaten since 1974.)

Materialism, attachment, accumulation, fear of letting go- all of these are words associated with Taurus. It is no coincidence that the RSS feed on my personal email has lately been filled with other peoples blogs on materialism, living the minimalist way or getting rid of attachments.

 Like Eddie and Pats, our attachments don’t necessarily need to be materialistic. It can be anything that makes us feel safe, anything that makes us feel secure. I can totally identify with Eddie’s fat as security- those extra layers can definitely provide protection- they stop people from seeing the person under the layers, in a way they provide protection from temptation or exposure.

We can be attached to feelings, to goods, to a hair style, to the past. We can be attached to the way things are, the way things were or the way that we think they might be. We can be attached to a dream, a hope, or a vision. We can be attached to a lost love, the idea of love, the fantasy of a love. Not everything that we hang onto is, by definition, good. How many people do you know of in unhealthy relationships for whatever reason? How many people do you know who will listen to good advice and then pop their own roadblocks or excuses up? I’ll be the 1st to put my own hand up for that one- on a number of different levels.

Getting rid or letting go of what we are attached to can be scary as it removes an excuse for moving forward. Holding onto that clutter or baggage can weigh you down physically or symbolically. It is there in the friend who insists on closure from her ex before saying yes to the guy standing in front of her.  It is there when we hold onto a job long past its use by date because the current one, for all its faults, makes us feel safe. I am doing it at present- holding onto words I have written for a book that I am too scared to have someone read because putting them out there will expose me without the layers of protection.  I know I need to let it go and trust, but with trust is fear of rejection as well. I will choose carefully and grit my teeth and hope that my trust is not misplaced.   

Wherever Taurus is in your chart will give you an idea about where you have problems letting go. (Check out my previous Taurus posts & the Scorpio Full moon posts). Look also at any Taurus planets and what they represent to you. Saturn is also the bad guy when it comes to fear- but that one is for an entirely different blog!

Anyway, back to Eddy… after 3 weeks on detox without so much as a sniff of alcohol, she has lost some weight and is feeling well chuffed with herself. The same group of girls in the same restaurant, but this time they are discussing Sex & the City.

“I’ll be Sarah Jessica Parker,” volunteers Eddy.

The others laugh and Katy Grin says “you’re still too fat!”

No one notices Eddy’s weight loss- that particular baggage was more important to her than it was to anyone else… as all good baggage usually is.

La Vie En Rose- Venus in Pisces

A fairytale view of New York- pic by me.
A fairytale view of New York- pic by me.

Once upon a time there was a magical movie about a chauffeurs’ daughter who had made an occupation out of being in love with her employers’ son. He is handsome and mega rich and exciting, but he doesn’t know that she exists. So she runs away to Paris to forget him and find herself.

When she returns home, with a new wardrobe and a new haircut, even though he is newly engaged he finally notices her and she feels that all her dreams are finally coming true. His crusty and even more mega rich older brother has to distract her in order to preserve the potential business partnership that is a by product of the engagement. He recognises early that material wealth means nothing to her- she can’t be bought. Instead he plays to her sympathies- he confides in her invented tales about how lost he is, how misunderstood he is, about how he wishes he could escape to Paris. Referred to as the worlds’ only living heart donor, his idea of a relationship is letting his date order dessert, yet, as he talks, he realises that what he is saying is actually true. As she listens she feels sorry for him. As she gets to know him she realises that her childhood love was a fantasy. She sees in him her reality and saves him from himself.

The movie is Sabrina- originally made with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and later re-done with Harrison Ford as Linus Larraby and Julia Ormond as Sabrina Fairchild. I watched both versions while ironing the other weekend as part of my essential research for New York (along with umpteen episodes of Sex & the City and Absolutely Fabulous- the one where Eddy & Pats go to New York to find Eddys’ gay son… I had a lot of ironing!). As I was watching New York unfold on the screen, I was hearing and feeling the underlying themes and tones of the Edith Piaf classic La Vie en Rose- loosely translated living life through rose coloured glasses. This is Pisces. Sabrina is Venus in Pisces.

Sabrina had been in love with a fantasy all her life- Venus in Pisces. To escape reality she flees to Paris- the ultimate Piscean city. We see the romance of long walks, fairy lights and the Bateaux-Mouches as they glide along the Seine.

Sabrina was named for Sabrina Fair/Fayre, the character in a poem by Milton who came to save the Mariner. As Linus finds himself falling under her spell, Sabrina shows him an escape from his dry, dusty and emotionless life. Sabrina the Saviour is Venus in Pisces.

Venus in Pisces is romantic idealism, but can heal through love. Venus in Pisces is devoted, super sensitive, yet can also be evasive and reluctant to commit. Venus in Pisces will love you like you have never been loved before, but will have difficulty in telling you how she feels. Venus in Pisces will place you on a pedestal and love you forever, yet may still find it possible to be unfaithful on a physical level. To Venus in Pisces, nothing matters more than how it feels deep inside.

Incredibly intuitive, Venus in Pisces will express herself with meaningful glances, a hug that lasts just a little longer than usual, a kiss that grazes ever closer to the lips. She will rarely make the first move, but send you sign after sign, lying in bed at night building fantasies in her head about what she should have said, but couldn’t. This is why water signs work so well with each other- they can understand the concept of “more than words”- even though the actual getting together may involve months of hidden messages, cryptic conversations and meaningful looks. Air is frustrated by this, seeing it as an inability to communicate. Earth sees it as a waste of practical effort and Fire just wants to get down to the shagging part…OK, I am simplifying…just a little…

While she may not say much, Venus in Pisces has a way of insinuating herself into your life and before you know it that friend who has meant so much as a fun companion suddenly means so much more. Venus in Pisces often doesn’t know what she wants, but goes with the flow until the feeling is given definition by another. She has the ability to morph easily into whatever and whoever you need her to be, but will wiggle out of your grasp and off the hook if you attempt to control her. Whilst she is happy to be taken care of and yearns to be looked after and loved exclusively she will seek to escape any traps you set for her.

Venus in Pisces can also be the quintessential damsel in distress – the little girl lost who needs to be rescued and looked after and the helpless man who needs to be mothered and picked up after. This one dimensional view is the shadow side of Venus in Pisces- a tendency to not take responsibility for your own actions.

Men with Venus in Pisces are looking for a woman with Piscean characteristics- someone emotional, sensitive and intuitive… someone who will see into his soul and understand him without him needing to say the words. He wants someone to share his dreams with and someone who will dream with him. He wants someone who will share her emotions with him and who he trusts enough to open his heart to. He will understand that sometimes you just need to cry and need to be held until the tears have stopped and left mascara stains on his shirt. He wants someone he can feel with.

Above all, Venus in Pisces believes in fairytales, trusts that there can be a happy ever after and wants to live the dream- La Vie en Rose.

Hold me close and hold me fast

The magic spell you cast-

This is la vie en rose

When you kiss me heaven sighs

And though I close my eyes

I see la vie en rose.

When you press me to your heart

I’m in a world apart

A world where roses bloom.

And when you speak

Angels sing from above-

Everyday words turn into love songs.

Give your heart and soul to me and

Life will always be

La vie en rose.

Note: Interpretations of placements are valid for both sexes- I simplify by referring to feminine signs & planets as “she”.

Door Handles and Home Sweet Home- Jupiter Transits of the 4th House

Patsy in New York (
Patsy in New York (

There is this episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Patsy and Eddy go to New York hop on the Concord and fly to New York for a shopping trip. This isn’t just any shopping trip, Eddy is after a door handle that she saw in a magazine in the waiting room at (I think) the dentists.

In the previous episode Patsy burned the kitchen down. We see a completely burned out kitchen and Pats slumped on the table passed out with the cigarette still in her mouth. So Eddy needs a new kitchen and the door handle is the key piece of the design of her new kitchen. In fact, it the only design piece for her new kitchen. She wants the kitchen to look like the door handle.

I actually don’t see anything wrong with this concept. The main hallway, family room TV room in our house has a colour scheme that was entirely dictated by the centre of the daisy in a Garry McEwan print I bought in Melbourne. Our bedroom is based on an antique china plate I saw once and the lounge/dining on a scrap of William Morris wallpaper. I completely redecorated my study when I bought another Garry print. My daughter is no better- her vision for when we did her bedroom a couple of years ago was based on a T shirt with a frangipani on it that we bought on holidays somewhere.

I went mad with the paint brush when Jupiter last transited my 4th house… and that is just one of the things that 4th house transits are great for. But then again, I have Gemini on the cusp of my 4th house, so change in the home environment is something that helps me feel secure… along with lots of books and lots of music files.

Whatever sign your 4th house falls under, when Jupiter transits you will be looking closely at home and the stability, security (or otherwise) that you get (or don’t get) from your domestic set-up or family.

The 4th house is at the very bottom point of your chart and signifies things that are at the very root of your being- where you came from and the end of matters. It is also about the home and real estate- the 4th is where we buy, sell and improve real estate. To traditional astrologers, the 4th represents the father, to many modern astrologers it is family in general and, by extension, family relationships. The Cancer stuff of life- protection, safety and nurturing.

Jupiter likes to expand and offer opportunities to make things bigger- but as we have seen, bigger isn’t always better and size really doesn’t matter.

When Jupiter transits your 4th house you may, like me, go on a manic home improvement phase, or you may decide your home is too small and look for something bigger. Whilst comfort and the security of your family may be of increased comfort right now, any unresolved issues may be blown out of all proportions. Your family may grow- either literally or figuratively eg you may have children, more people living with you or become closer to people who provide you with the feeling of family.

You may want to move, or you may not want to step outside the front door. An chance may present itself to make money (in some way) from real estate- depending on your natal Jupiter and level of risk you are comfortable with you may choose to take it or you may choose to leave it. Jupiter doesn’t really care. Nor does he care if you over extend yourself financially in the process with all the flow on effects on relationships- his job is just to provide the opportunities.

The 4th house also represents the basic foundations in our lives- what makes you content and stable on a psychological level. You may become interested in family history or traditions, perhaps creating some of your own. You may focus on long term security or you may “up-root” and start again.

It is worth remembering that any 4th house Jupiter transit will form challenging aspects to the other angles in your chart, ie the 1st, 7th and 10th houses. Perhaps a need to be with the family will prompt you to look closely at issues of work/life balance- it may even mean that your job changes because of things happening at the domestic level. Whenever changes happen in the home, they have flow on effects to relationships, possibly your health (moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do) and maybe even your personal freedoms.

Maybe you just have the urge to fly to New York in search of the perfect door handle. Now there’s an idea…