What are virtues?
Aristotle defined virtue as “human capacity or skill guided by reason and insight, which in relation to the human being holds the mean between the too-much and the too-little.” It is important for us to keep the mean between the extremes so that moral power may stream into the world. Virtues are active deeds, not simply passive concepts. Implementing the virtues educates our emotions and feelings, and brings pleasure to our soul. We must “do” virtues, not simply know about them.
This page offers the year as an archetype, each constellation of the zodiac streaming forth the virtues for inner development as the sun enters each of the constellations through the year. Our embodiment of these virtues is a gradual, evolving and expanding progression through life. Consider the following ideas as we enter the various constellations and their corresponding virtues throughout the year. (Note: All dates are based on the Sidereal Zodiac.)
Capricorn – January 15 – February 14:
Courage Becomes the Power to Redeem
Courage, combined with carefulness, moves us to redemption of the lower self. In its extremes, courage is foolhardiness or excessive ambition on one side, and timidity or cowardliness on the other. Courage is centered in the heart with an experience of the higher self. It is a capacity to be vulnerable and authentic in our being, and confront that which is uncomfortable to us. There is no beginning without courage. How do you experience the extremes and the mean of the virtue of courage?
Aquarius – February 14 – March 15:
Discretion/Silence Becomes Meditative Strength
A balance of discretion with communicativeness brings forth meditative power. In its extremes, discretion is secretiveness or self-indulgence on one side, and gossip or self-denial on the other. An indication that we may wish to work on the virtue of discernment is that we regularly feel confused and/or indecisive, struggling to discern the qualities we take in. We can practice finding silence and stillness in our thinking, thus allowing the soul to experience itself in connection with Spirit rather than the sense world. How can you develop your capacity for creative thought to come forth out of silence?
Pisces – March 15 – April 15:
Magnanimity Becomes Love
A balance of magnanimity with self discipline will bring forth love. In their extremes, magnanimity can become indifference, while self discipline can become stubbornness. Through our meditative strength cultivated last month, we can begin to connect with our own true voice, the voice of our higher self. This allows us to perceive not only our own unique individuality, but those of others, and in doing so, we have an interest, reverence and respect for each unique way of being. This is an aspect of magnanimity. We may feel overly sentimental and attached to things, or wish to control things in our lives or the lives of others. These patterns are wonderful indicators that cultivation of magnanimity is needed. How might you be self disciplined enough to have reverence for and give attention to what is important to you at a soul level, without falling into attachment?
Aries – April 15 – May 15:
Devotion Becomes the Power of Self Sacrifice
Devotion combined with self-confidence brings for the power of self sacrifice. In self sacrifice, we lose ourselves to find ourselves. In devotion, we find ourselves loving in a deep, steady and continuous way that allows us to find ourselves in others by letting go of our own agendas and personal thoughts. We open ourselves for Higher thought to come through us. Our own self-confidence helps us to know that we are strong enough in our being to lose/empty ourselves for the sake of discovering who we truly are. We must take care that we don’t go to the extremes of subservience in our devotion or arrogance in our self-confidence. How can you practice seeing the world and others as sacred such that you can build the devotion to let go and empty yourself, while taking care not to allow others to take advantage of you?
Taurus – May 15 – June 16:
Integrity/Inner Balance Becomes Progress
Inner balance in tandem with flexibility brings forth progress. If we go to extremes in the practice of this virtue, our flexibility can create instability, or we can try too hard to stay balanced and become rigid. In finding ourselves in others with the devotion and self sacrifice of last month, we meet our individuality in meeting another individuality. In meeting these others, we strive to meet them as our true selves while honoring their true selves. So often, we shrink back or become domineering in the meeting of others as we are shown our truth. We often don’t wish to face that which is needed to help us find the balance needed to grow. How can we meet others in such a way that accepts what we see and honors our own truth?
Gemini – June 16 – July 17:
Perseverance Becomes Faithfulness
As we persevere with the ability to be depended upon, faithfulness develops. An important point here is that we persevere even through what is not yet transparent to us. We persevere in the progress toward self development we are making with last month’s virtue. Perseverance is in service of our true destiny, and thus to what we owe to the world and those around us. It is honoring God’s will, not our own personal will. If we find ourselves being inattentive to a sense of purpose or destiny, this may be an indication of the need to take a stand in soul or spirit and practice perseverance and dependability. In doing so, we cultivate greater faith not only in God, but in ourselves, others and the world around us. If we go to extremes in our perseverance, we can become fanatical and lose sight of the forest for the trees. If we focus too much on dependability, we become fatalistic and perhaps resentful of what we do. As with every virtue’s practice, it is a matter of holding a balance. Are there areas in your life that feel aimless? Can you take a stand to honor your soul with perseverance?
Cancer – July 17 – August 18:
Selflessness Becomes Catharsis
With selflessness and strength of Ego, i.e. the strength of our I Am self, we experience catharsis. Yet, if we are imbalanced in our selflessness, we can lose our I Am self, and if we are imbalanced in our strength of Ego, we move toward egotism. We may feel the initial need to self-protect, keeping us from allowing catharsis to meet us.
As we work with the faith cultivated last month and allow the catharsis to unfold, we move to deeper compassion for our selves and others. We move toward a stronger sense of the “I” in others.
What does it take to be selfless? Herbert Witzenmann defines selflessness beautifully when he says, “True selflessness defends neither the narrowness of the subjective personality, nor does it lose itself in other people and objects.” How can you work with selflessness for the remainder of this month, and allow it to bring forth the cathartic experiences your soul is seeking? Can you allow yourself to be seen, make mistakes and surrender to the process of being “like a child,” willing to learn and not worried about embarrassment? How is catharsis showing up for you?
Leo – August 18 – September 17:
Compassion Becomes Freedom
With compassion and a sense of self-affirmation, we can find freedom. Compassion means “to suffer with.” The key is to be able to experience suffering as one’s own without losing one’s self to it, and to let the suffering be. This is where the sense of self, or self-assurance comes in. We must allow suffering to be, while lovingly feeling for those experiencing it. If we are too self-affirming, we become narcissistic. If we are too extreme in our compassion, we dissolve our selves.
Can you work to stand in the world, affirming of yourself without becoming narcissistic? Can you have the courage to try, even if you are afraid of seeming too self-involved? Can you open your heart to the suffering of others, and even the suffering of yourself, feeling it fully without getting lost in it, or numbing yourself to it? As we are able to keep from losing ourselves to the suffering in compassion, we find freedom in being, and allow the being of others in freedom.
Virgo – September 17 – October 18:
Courtesy Becomes Tactfulness of Heart
Politeness with ingenuousness or nobility brings tactfulness of heart. With heartfelt tact, we can allow the expression of the souls of others and hold back our own emotions from overpowering a situation or other person. We can begin to know the essence of the other and allow them to be, finding ourselves in them as well. If we are too polite, we can fall into the trap of conventionality or superficiality. Taking ingenuousness to extreme can bring forth audacity and a lack of regard for the other.
How can we strive to allow the unique essence of others? Can we give them the space to express and be? Can we be sincerely interested in them and exercise restraint in our own emotions and opinions? As we hold back and allow the other, we can heighten our sense of perception of others, who they are, and how to best interact with them harmoniously. We might even find ourselves in them.
Libra – October 18 – November 17:
Contentment Becomes Equanimity
We come to equanimity through contentment combined with willingness. Too much contentment brings us to complacency and a lack of motivation to grow or shift. Too much exertion of our will brings forth fault finding in others.
Being content with what is without being resigned to it requires our will forces. How can we be willing to birth the visions we see for the future while accepting what is here in the present? Can we do this without blaming anyone for what is? Can we keep from feeling despair over all that may seem to need overcoming in order to shape a new paradigm? How might we practice being even in our emotions, and accepting all of our emotions as informing messengers to be taken into consideration?
Scorpio – November 17 – December 17:
Patience/Humility Becomes Insight
Patience combined with presence of mind brings forth insight. Too much patience can become apathy or indifference, while if we are too focused on any one thing, we may find ourselves filled with tension. As we go inward this time of year, we often feel uncomfortable with the darkness, uncertainty and unrest that we face.
What might we discover if we were truly patient with the journey inward and allowed ourselves to simply notice what wants to emerge? Can we curb our passions and impulses enough, without judgment or premature action, to allow the experiences and emotions we have to slowly unfold within our being and to see what they wish to become or bring forth?
Saggitarius – December 17 – January 15:
Control of Thought/Speech Becomes Discernment of Truth
Control of thought, combined with mobility of thought can bring us to a discernment of Truth. If we are too controlled in our thought, we might be dogmatic and/or immobile. If we are too mobile in our thoughts, we beget confusion. We could also call this control of thought/speech self discipline. We may notice we are quite opinionated, which might be an indication of our need to exercise some restraint, open ourselves to listening, and experience Truths we might not have otherwise experienced. We can place our attention on others and find interest in them and the world around us from a place of neutrality…no opinion or judgement…just observing and noticing.
Imagine listening out as far as you can hear. What do you notice? Can you bring this level of listening to those you interact with, and practice beholding them without opinion or judgement? What might we discover if we simply observe and listen?Note: Many of these concepts in relation to the description of virtues are inspired by the work of Robert Powell and Robert Sardello.