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Ask A Virgo: Why Are You So Anal?

Astrology

Dispelling some of the myths surrounding the most misunderstood (and sexually open) zodiac sign

The sun is in Virgo, dear readers, and you know what that means: It's time for a new set of zodiac interviews. Well, it's just my luck that I happen to know so many amazing Virgos who are out there giving their all to every small and big thing they do.


For this round, I chose two women who are very dear to me and who—in many ways—strike me as the epitome of Virgo excellence. The work these two queer femmes do is magical, beautiful, and challenging. They are a writer and a visual artist, a caregiver and a mother, teachers, activists, and irreverent perfectionists. And, they are very very powerful.

Here, we discuss topping from the bottom, when knowledge is power and when it is a crutch, and how to be prepared to always look your best. You better believe that they have something to teach you about Virgos, and probably something to teach you about yourself, too. After all, to quote Airea, a Virgo believes "it's best to leave people better than you found them."


AIREA D. MATTHEWS

Virgos, like Geminis, are ruled by Mercury—planet of information, technology, and communications. And, like Geminis, Virgos are a mutable sign, changeable in relation to context, flourishing in collaboration, and excited by exchange. But, while Geminis are often prone to sharing the information they've gathered, whether it be through the distribution of their new projects or good old-fashioned gossip, Virgos are more likely to keep what they've gathered to themselves for future use. Has there ever been a moment for you when knowledge no longer felt like power?
I've been interested in the occult for a solid decade. I met an intuitive medium in 2009 who introduced me to tarot and dowsing. She also helped me to get in touch with my own mediumship. Being able to intuit events or outcomes felt like a sort of wizardry for a long time; I felt better able to strategize in both love and career. But, sometime around 2013, I felt like I was relying on certain outcomes too heavily—life isn't necessarily a conditional if/then statement. Too much of me wanted to plan a worst-case backup plan for any number of doomsday scenarios. And, I spent a lot of valuable time in presupposition instead of savoring the moment. The future became my pastime.

I've come to realize the entire point of knowing anything is not to have a competitive advantage in the power Olympics. The point of knowledge has never been about power but rather the freedom to enjoy the present moment. The more I thought I knew, the less I actually knew, and the less I could actually enjoy the present. In 2017, in the midst of a move, I gave away my decks, my tools, and many books. I was hoping they might be able to help someone else. What I found in their place was a reliance on my own intuition and liberation from the outcome. Sometimes the thrill of the wild ride of life is the wild ride of life, and that has to be enough.

There's a rumor out there that Virgos are the neatest, most anal (in more ways than one!), sign in the Zodiac. Yet take a survey of several variant Virgos, and you'll find that order doesn't mean the same thing to each one. In fact, it is not unusual to step into a Virgo's home and experience a sense of chaos—if not from the four different project piles that "aren't ready yet," then from an assortment of neons placed too close together or the overflowing stack of manuals on wildly divergent career paths. Move any of these, however, and a Virgo will notice. Are there such taxonomies in your home that only you can discern the value of? What are they?
I think Virgoan organization is a pick-and-choose fussiness. I am notoriously awful at keeping my calendar updated or replying to emails within a 72-hour window (or at all), but I organize other things like separating bills by payment method (mail, phone, internet). In fact, there's a pile on my foyer table that no one dares to even touch. I am the only person in the world who knows what the hell I intended. I've come to realize the organizational behaviors that only I understand are my superpower. For instance, I live in a 120-year-old house with Hobbit-sized closets. I organize clothes, twice a year, by season, and I rotate what hangs and what gets put in storage containers. I pull out anything that I'd consider "nostalgia-wear," or an outfit in which something memorable happened. Once I link clothing to an event, I feel forced to feel something—good or bad—and I can no longer keep that apparel in rotation. I either gift it or thrift it to cut down on waste and, also, to reduce the intensity of a feeling associated with something outside of myself. Which, as I write this, is clearly something I need to take up with my therapist.

Finally, I have a thing about vacuuming and cleaning. It would be a stretch to say I am a neat freak because I am not. I mean, I don't do things like making my bed every day. But, I do feel centered when I clean or vacuum, which I only do when I need to focus or center. In other words, I don't do it daily, but I do it frequently. I also have a weird quirk where I help friends clean their houses if need be. But, I've noticed whenever I help someone clean their house, our friendship severs for a time shortly thereafter. I don't know why that is, but it's occurred more than once. It feels exceedingly Virgo to have something like that happen or, at the very least, a self-fulfilling prophecy. I just believe it's best to leave people better than you found them. And, if the friendship is fated to end, as I'm sure I sensed it might before I offered to clean, the least we can do is part ways on shiny floors that reek of lavender.

Okay, I'll say it. Virgos are one of the freakiest, most sexually open, and explorative signs in the zodiac! Why do you think this aspect of Virgos isn't as widely known? Is it the fact that Virgos are associated with The Virgin? Is it the Mary-Magdalene complex? Have you felt or experienced this dichotomy?
I don't know why people don't see Virgos as the sexual explorers we are. It seems like people equate the symbol of the Virgin with prudishness. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, Virgos are curious and may require trust as the necessary landscape for exploration and experimentation. But, when a Virgo trusts, they deeply trust, and nothing is withheld. Think about it: The mind is the largest sex organ, and many Virgos are constantly in their head and thinking. What do you think we are considering? When you are sure a Virgo is thinking about something deep or arcane, we're probably imagining a new sex position or curating the raunchiest experience ever recorded in our head.

I'd like to think that our ability to shape-shift and pivot between modes—serious and playful—is one of the advantages of having a Virgo lover. Plus, Virgos pay keen attention to a lover's body and that body's detail—how it moves, what it responds to, how the body sounds/smells/feels, the unspeakable pleasures of an intimate knowing. In my opinion, sensual attention is one of the finer points of being a fluid and adoring lover. When people consider what makes for good sex, they often think about mechanics. Mechanics are important, as is the body, but sex is not about a particular move or a standard approach. It requires some degree of individual attention and analysis. What the Virgo knows is that their lovers are not objects of desire but, rather, sensual subjects worthy of hands-on study. The Virgo finds or makes a way to be a scholar of their lover's entire body, and we welcome the same. And, if what they say about Virgos is true, we are curious perfectionists who don't leave anything undone.

Let's say you're a time traveler, and you get the chance to have an affair with one famous Virgo in history. Who would it be and why? Do you think it would last?
I would have definitely tried to holler at Elizabeth I of England, "The Virgin Queen," in the 1500s. There are so many things to cherish about her. For those who remember, her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded by her dad, Henry VIII. So, we both have childhood trauma, and we would absolutely connect there. In addition to being a provocative trendsetter, she was incredibly smart. Liz spoke four languages and wrote translations—SEXY. I like the fact that she refused marriage in order to preserve her divine right as queen. She loved the theatre and was a supporter of the arts, and saw at least two of Shakespeare's plays during her lifetime. She was mostly level-headed and certainly a more tolerant queen than her sister, Queen Mary, who had [Elizabeth] imprisoned in the Tower of London for a time. These facts coupled with her articulations of feminism in a patriarchal society make her extra fierce in my eyes. Her life was not easy, and she refused to hand it over to male advisors or play the ingenue. She played the game on her terms. I respect that.

From a more imaginative perspective, it would have made for history to have been a Black woman in a consensual, queer, and interracial relationship with a 16th-century monarch. Can you imagine those old British dudes' faces contorted in disgust?

Alas, it would not have lasted because one of those dudes would have had me poisoned by a chambermaid.

If you could give your youngest most struggling Virgo-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be self-compassionate. I was very hard on myself and others for very many years. I was angry and self-blaming, but I was also judgmental. In my reality, I wanted a world in which people listened to and valued each other; I wanted perfection. I couldn't seem to reconcile the cognitive dissonance between what could be and what was. The truth, of course, is that people are people, and people are flawed. We are all imperfect, and we are all impacted by our own experiences. Perfection is illusory, a myth as compelling as any Greco-Roman tale.

At any rate, I've learned that, in order to be forward-facing in this world, the authentic person must be self-compassionate and forgiving. The hard lesson is how do you forgive anyone if you can't forgive your own shortcomings? You don't, and that's why you must. It's soul nurturing to live in the "what is" of life, and, as the poet Maggie Smith writes in many of her inspirational tweets, "Keep moving." And, so, I try to do that now. I don't always succeed, but I always try. That's all any of us can actually be sure to do—try. Oh, and when trying feels hard, hold your hand to your heart and say, You're enough.

Tell me what you're working on now? Where, when, and how can the people see your work?
Because I'm Virgo, I'm sort of practical and somewhat logical. That being said, the best way folks can get my work is to buy my book, Simulacra. I have new work in recent issues of the Michigan Quarterly Review, Tin House (penultimate issue), and The Los Angeles Review of Books. I am working closely with Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela and Cynthia Dewi Oka to start an interdisciplinary arts collective and gallery in Philadelphia. I'm also churning through the work of my second book, whose title I grapple with daily. At this very moment, the book is titled Broke. The manuscript will be finished by June of 2020, and I am in talks with innovative publishing houses for her (all my books are or will be femme). I am heavily revising, discarding, and adding poems. I'm busy doing all those things authors do—checking for the larger arc, sequencing, thematic and imagistic coherence, making lines sing, etc.

This book, like its author, has shifted focus over time. At first, I wanted to write about poverty, but I didn't want to be imposing or appropriative. Then, I started thinking about class as a primary spatial marker in American society. After which, I started thinking about space and the visual plane. Ultimately, the book will be an interdisciplinary (visual/textual) examination of American brokenness from several different perspectives—personal, class, race, and myth. I've remained consistently excited about this book. The idea of thinking about the larger forces that shaped the themes in Simulacra feels like an excavation and further interrogation into a culture that impacts us all. It's that Virgo obsession that drives most of my work and makes me constantly dig until I hit the iron core of a matter.


SAMANTHA NYE

Virgos are ruled by Mercury—planet of information, technology, and communications—and more likely to keep what they've gathered to themselves for future use. Has there ever been a moment for you when knowledge no longer felt like power?
At my first job in New York, which involved caring for an heiress with Alzheimer's in her palatial mansion on the Upper East Side, I had slowly been cultivating a reservoir of knowledge about her needs, dislikes, desires, ways to goad her out of a bad mood, fave Michael Bolton songs, preferred bath temperature, etc. A new boss came on the scene, and in what felt like an act of generosity, though later revealed as precocity, I wrote out long detailed lists of my culled knowledge, two years' worth. A month later, under suspicious circumstances, I was let go. Sharing my knowledge stripped me of power.

There's a rumor out there that Virgos are the neatest and most anal sign in the zodiac. Yet, it is not unusual to step into a Virgo's home and experience a sense of chaos—if not from the four different project piles that "aren't ready yet," then from an assortment of neons placed too close together or the overflowing stack of manuals on wildly divergent career paths. Move any of these, however, and a Virgo will notice. Are there such taxonomies in your home that only you can discern the value of? What are they?
Though this happens in my home, to which my girlfriend could attest, this action really ramps up in my studio. Lately, I've been working on six paintings at once which has allowed for a continued organized chaos… I often have three very specifically organized pallets for one painting. There are several Slim Aarons books open at all times. Plus, printouts of Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights," and stacks and stacks of painting references. My projects run on a multiyear basis, particularly my video work, which lends itself to ongoing corners of pink leather, '80s pantsuits waiting to be bedazzled, wigs, storyboards, piles of photographs and clippings of look inspirations. All this next to oversized props from a recent video shoot: an enormous pink beanbag chair and a six-foot double Saint Andrew's cross wrapped in faux leather and faux fur.

Virgos are one of the freakiest, most sexually open, and explorative signs in the zodiac. Why do you think this aspect of Virgos isn't as widely known? Is it the fact that Virgos are associated with The Virgin? Is it the Mary-Magdalene complex? Have you felt/experienced this dichotomy?
No, everyone who meets me knows I top from the bottom. #BlancheDevereaux

Let's say you're a time traveler, and you get the chance to have an affair with one famous Virgo in history. Who would it be and why? Do you think it would last?
I'd travel back to 1970 to meet Lily Tomlin before she met her wife. We would last because we're both hilarious—sorry, Jane.

If you could give your youngest, most struggling, Virgo-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Have a piece of formal clothing in every color, for every season in your closet at all times. So, when you get invited, last-minute, to a wedding with a color theme you won't be freaking out like I AM RIGHT NOW!!! Virgo?

Tell me what you're working on now? Where, when, and how can the people see your work?
I'm working on a series of paintings called Attractive People Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places, along with a video series called Visual Pleasure / Jukebox Cinema. Both series are love letters to queer spaces, past and present, the thriving and the abandoned. In my attempt to make images of queer kinship, I acknowledge the beautiful parts, the prickly parts, the radical parts and the parts that have long needed fixing. With celebration and criticality, I pull references from lesbian legacies and failures. These works envision a fantasy history of both age- and trans-inclusive lesbian spaces and mash up incongruent queer references such as Slim Aarons photographs of the 1960s, lesbian separatist spaces of the 1970s, bat mitzvah parties from 1990s, and the Miami club scene of the early-2000s.

You can see it on my website, SamanthaNye.com.

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