The reading

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Here is the Virgo version of the reading. The second was identical, but with the word 'Virgo changed to 'Taurus' throughout.

Zodiac summary:

Sign of Virgo with Saturn rising Principal planets:

First house: Venus, Neptune. Fifth house: Mars. Sixth house: Pluto.

Principal aspects:

Venus in Aquarius. Neptune and Mars in Pisces. Pluto in Sagittarius.

The Virgo female

- affairs of the heart

The Virgo female is feminine, warm and loving, no stranger to strong passions and deep feelings. She is not as easily hurt as some, like her frailer friends Pisces or Gemini for example, but this resilience has a drawback. Since you are accustomed to feeling strong, and can take on the chin some knocks that would send others down for the count, you react all the more intensely when, as must sometimes happen, someone does manage to hurt or wound you. When this happens, you are stunned, amazed that your defences failed you. Moreover, you can be very effective at making your distress known to all around you.

You genuinely find it hard to give up your independence, indeed your every instinct challenges this very notion - why should you? You prefer to strike a well-managed balance between solo activities and those in tandem with your partner, to the benefit of both.

You do not bear grudges much - it's too time-consuming for you, and you prefer to simply move on and leave small nuisances behind. Those who cross you or treat you ill will most likely receive a sharp blast of icy contempt - one of your strong suits when the mood strikes - and then be left watching your heels through dust.

You can take a knock to your own pride or confidence, because you trust yourself to recover. But woe betide anyone who hurts or damages those whom you care for. You are a protector and a carer. You never, ever forget an enemy whom you perceive to have injured someone close to you. Nor do you forgive yourself for having allowed your protective skills to have been thwarted. Incidentally, one such victory is all that any opponent can hope for. Should there ever be a return match, the female Virgo will prove herself a most fearsome adversary: well-prepared, serenely defiant, and, when joining for battle, resolutely invincible. Those who on the first occasion manage a successful attack would be wise upon a second meeting to reach for a white flag of surrender. Virgos do not take prisoners.

- career and self-advancement

The Virgo female can acquit herself well in most departments. She can be a great cook, a great businesswoman, a great artist or a great mother. Creativity is a strong point, and is likely to manifest itself in more than one form. She can write the great novel, or create a prize-winning garden. She can think and express herself visually, or learn to be a good dancer. Then again, her creativity can express itself in more subtle ways - in the way she talks, in the way she conducts her friendships and relationships, in her choice of gifts and presents, or in her ideas for holidays and other special occasions.

There are two problems that disturb this somewhat calm picture. First, you have a degree of inertia that may prevent you from exploring all the options before deciding which creative mode is right for you. This inertia is not physical or geographical - you may be a great traveller or the sort to move every two years. It is an inner inertia whereby you so enjoy the outlet you have discovered already that you overlook the possibility of there being something even better just around the corner.

The other problem is that you do not lack energy. Even if you are not inclined to be particularly athletic, you nonetheless find yourself possessed of enormous reserves of both creative and physical stamina. From this point of view, you may find it hard to find a role that can soak up all your capacity, and genuinely cater for your potential. This places you at a disadvantage compared to the more easily contented Aquarius, for example, or the less ambitious Libra. On the positive side, once you do find the right role, you can be relied upon to make the most of it, and leave the other contenders behind. A Virgo who has found something to excel at is a joy to herself and to others - always provided, of course, that they are not so foolish as to try and stand in her way.

The story of the major houses

- first house

Your first house is associated with affairs closest to the heart and to romance. Here, the influence of Venus, the guider of passion, is a very positive sign that you can succeed in love where many fail, although this is not to say you won't need some of your Virgo toughness, persistence and self-confidence from time to time.

The presence in this first house of Neptune, associated with deep-seated wisdom and a tempered approach to life's turbulence, augurs well for you. Though your life may pass through many phases, and love present its thorns as well as its roses, you have enough deep-seated faith in yourself to see you through and achieve the happiness and love which is your birthright, and for which you have more than average capacity.

- fifth house

Your fifth house is associated with career, self-advancement and personal wealth, although the stars do not see wealth in purely financial terms. The presence of Mars, the planet of energy, power and conquest, allied to your natural Virgo strength and fortitude, indicates that you have an enviable capacity to work hard for what you want, and to overcome any obstacle which might defeat a less determined character.

However, you can only bring these formidable strengths to bear once you have truly committed yourself to a chosen line or path, and this is where you may come unstuck. Your innate tendency is to stick to the tried and true, to stay comfortable where you are, and to settle for what you've got. In other words, your ability to forge ahead, determine new horizons and achieve any or all ambitions, may go untapped as you decide to take the easier, quieter life. It would be a shame to squander this power and potential for conquering new challenges.

- sixth house

Your sixth house is associated with learning, intellect and communication. Your primary influence here is Pluto, the planet of peace, contemplation and solitude. This would suggest someone who is never ending in her search for new understandings, new perspectives and new ways of seeing the world. You are already aware of how much you have learned in life, and of the things now clear which once frustrated and puzzled you. You are, as it were, a voyager and a traveller, who has gained much in experience and who has learned to trust to this experience when a challenge presents itself, or life takes a turn for the worse.

Virgos do not generally aspire to abstract intellectual goals which may have little pragmatic value. They enjoy learning, so long as they see a tangible benefit and a practical improvement in their quality of life. Pluto will moderate your natural tendency to confront problems and puzzles head on, and encourage you to adopt more creative, and more subtle strategies - to outwit the problem, instead of charging at it. This makes for a very effective combination, and you should be a good learner and thinker -someone whom friends know can usually be relied upon to solve a problem using either sheer will and determination, or a smartish piece of lateral thinking that others would have missed.

Who you are - your zodiac traits

- the communicator

You are a communicator. In the past five years you have discovered fresh talents in this direction, happy to share with others the benefit of your knowledge and experience. You are not some chattering busy-body - the advice you give, and the suggestions you make, are always firmly grounded in reality and 100% practical. You can think through the practicalities of any situation, and rarely let small problems get in your way. Your friends see you as helpful, a good ally in a tight corner, and welcome your strength.

If there is a drawback here, it is that now and again you don't really know when to stop. Inwardly, you know that others have to lead their own lives, but you can't help feeling you have enough imagination for two - as indeed you do - and are plagued by nagging suspicions that if only they would just leave everything up to you, you would get further, faster, and with less fuss.

- the achiever

The flustered, hysterical approach is totally alien to you. Calm, methodical, planned - these are your hallmarks. Only the most serious frustrations, arising from almost unbelievable bad luck and particularly pernicious circumstance, can unsettle you and at such times all around would be well-advised to steer clear. A female Virgo sensing that she has lost control is not an attractive sight, and needs extremely careful handling. She will calm down when she's good and ready, and when she does there will be a full-throttle display of short, sharp action designed to put her house back in order and to restore the sense of security which is so precious to her. Again, it would be most unwise for anyone to try and intervene or obstruct this process.

- the participant

You are a doer, not a fantasist; a performer not a critic; a participant rather than an observer. Quiet contemplation, despite the influence of the lofty Pluto, is not your scene. Get involved, get with it, get in on the action - this is you. The pity of it is that on occasions you go too far - you want to run the whole show, overlooking that others also want to make their contribution. However, provided you manage to check this tendency, which in any case is less of a problem as the years go by, you are a valued team player and one with enormous heart.

Your deep-rooted pride will simply not allow you to let the side down. Whatever role you accept, you always play it to the full. This is not just admirable selflessness on your part: your powerful sense of independence is ever with you, and underneath whatever mask you may wear, you want your share of the limelight, your share of the praise. But if you rather obviously crave some of the rewards, at least you are prepared to work hard to obtain them, and others can see this in you.

- the schemer

If you were to be totally candid, you would have to admit that although your first choice is to win fair and square, you are not beyond stretching an ethical point in your favour in exceptional circumstances. If you sense the game is a little bit rigged against your interests, and the fair approach simply won't work, then you can quickly decide that the ends justify the means, and to take whatever route you have to in order to win. You are honest, and even your worst enemy could not say you aren't, but you're not a saint and frankly you've never felt fluttering wings and a harp were really your style.

Trends of the recent past and present

- romance

The past five years have seen at least one major romantic line that became a tangled knot, and ultimately left you somewhat cynical in your outlook. You recovered - as you always do - but not by chirpily "bouncing back" and pretending all is well, for this is not your style, but by carefully assessing what you had learned from the experience, and promising yourself that you will be more circumspect in the future. Problems could arise if you have now gone too far the other way and are too cautious in forming new friendships, associations and relationships.

Always remember that Venus is one of your first house planets, and her strong romantic influences are not easily subdued, nor should they be. You can be a terrific lover - understanding, fiercely loyal, playful, committed, able to think for two and, when the needs arise, be the one who provides the strength and the determination that can see both you and your partner through difficult times. Nor is it hard for you to receive love - you frankly relish attention and affection, and are willing to earn both in abundance. Your relationships would never fail for want of stability or of effort - you have both in spades.

Where you are vulnerable is in being perhaps too strong for some partners - who find your boundless inner fortitude and spirit rather too much to handle - and, on occasion, opting for personal comfort and contentment rather than the challenge of a new relationship, or a new phase in an existing one. In this regard, you do sometimes show the lack of influence from dynamic Mercury or Saturn, the great promoter of initiative and planning.

- learning and new experience

Over the past five years, you have exercised your tremendous capacity for new learning, and for acquiring what one could describe in the broadest sense as new wisdom. There is a conflict here. The planetary aspect of Pluto would incline you towards wisdom for its own sake and knowledge for itself, like a scholar in an ivory tower. Yet as a Virgo, you feel inclined to make the effort to learn only when you can see a practical, material benefit at the end.

This inner conflict has manifested itself over the past five years. On the one hand, with Pluto's influence, you are the dabbler, readily dipping into everything under the sun, something of an intellectual scavenger. You don't care where you find information

- books, pictures, conversation - or how it might help you in your goals. You value it for its own sake, and tell yourself you never know when it might come in handy. You make a great conversationalist, provided you find someone of similar temperament.

On the other hand, being Virgo, you find yourself inclined to harbour your resources to the full, and not waste any precious time or energy in pursuit of new learning if you can't see the point, the practical benefit. This is a conflict you will find hard to resolve, and yet resolve it you must if you are to realise your potential. The Martian aspect of your fifth house suggests that your Virgo side will win the day. You will become better at focusing your reserves on one or two carefully chosen goals, and then working towards them with your characteristic determination and resourcefulness. This process may already have begun, but it is almost certainly not yet complete.

It would be unfortunate for anyone to try and stand in between you and your chosen goal. They will not find it at all a comfortable place to be. If they are wise, they will stand aside, or perhaps help you and ally themselves to your formidable strength. If they are not so wise, they may try to oppose you or divert you from your chosen course. Their chances of success are slim. The sheer strength of your Virgo nature, welded to the strong presence of the warrior Mars, is a powerful combination and not one to be tackled lightly. An opponent's only real hope is that you will give up, or simply cease to apply yourself to your goal. This sometime happens when Virgos find themselves in a nice spot some part way along their journey, and opt for a bask in the sunshine rather than making further progress.

- money; and finance

Your chart does not suggest that you lack for the material pleasures that mean the most to you. You have financial concerns, and it is probably correct to say that some financial stress will always be with you. You are neither governed by money nor a slave to it. The truth is that despite your admitted materialistic streak, you simply do not consider money important enough for your life to revolve around its management and accumulation. Pluto, in your sixth house, would never allow you to get so interested in such mundane affairs. Hence over the past five years you have managed to make a little money grow, but you have also witnessed your ability to wave goodbye to it, enjoy the proceeds and let tomorrow take care of itself.

As a Virgo, your principal concern is for the comforts of the present, and the needs of the now. You are not unconcerned about the future, but it definitely takes a distant second place in your heart to the pleasures and satisfactions that you can enjoy now. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" could almost be your motto. In this regard, you will always be at loggerheads with Cancer - the typical long-distance planner if ever there was one - and Capricorn, whose endless fastidious attention to tiny details would leave you cold.

- health

There are no major oppositions in your chart which would indicate serious health problems or risks in adult life, although when you were younger, before your had matured into your natural strength and resilience, there may have been more than one serious cause for worry. For now, you are careful enough to take care of yourself where and when it matters.

Many Virgos do make fine athletes, but they tend to do so by dogged persistence and determined training, allied to a fierce drive to be first, rather than natural athletic grace or gifted reflexes. Hence you are unlikely to be known as the fitness freak among your circle, and not one to revolve your life around the local gymnasium. If these activities interest you at all, it is purely as a pragmatic means to an end - to feel better about yourself, to please yourself or your partner, or to prove something to yourself.

The strong influence of Mars in your fifth house suggests that whatever routine health problems you face you will see through with characteristic resilience and inner steel. You are not the sort to buckle easily under life's stresses and strains. Hypochondria is not to your taste. Whenever life fights you, you fight back, and you win far more often than you lose.

Trends for the future

Mars moving into Pisces this year. Sagittarius moving into your fifth house this year. Pluto gaining ascendance from next Spring. Mars waning from the following Winter.

- success and ambition

Your are not one to trust to fate, to sit back and see how things turn out. You rightly feel yourself to be the architect of your own future, and you have a healthy sense of responsibility for your own actions.

The good things in life are yours for the taking. Not without effort. Not without challenge. Not without hardship. But you must not let these factors deter you. Remember, you have more than enough skills and talents at your disposal to see yourself through, and when all else fails your sheer force of will is going to see you through. You are a realist, and you know that everything in life comes at a price. Keep your realistic outlook, and you will not go far wrong.

Those ambitions closest to your heart now are ones that you have harboured over the past 18 months at least (ever since Neptune's ascendance in your first house became the dominant conjunction). If you can marshal your reserves correctly, and reign the occasional flashes of temper that can cost so dear, then you will see your goals achieved.

Despite your occasional daydream of celebrity and exalted attention - all Virgos crave a touch of the "star for a day" treatment - great fame and fortune is not indicated and wouldn't suit you anyway. What is indicated is something altogether more satisfying. You will reap the benefits of your more methodical, well-paced progress through life. While some of your contemporaries, the early meteors who blazed a brighter trail, are seen to burn out, you will be coming into your prime and enjoying the treasures you have patiently laid up for yourself.

You will never lose your taste for comfort, and luckily for you the experience of luxury will become more frequent with the passing of time.

Few Virgos are ever truly unhappy in love. Even during spells of relative solitude, they can find contentment and much to enjoy in life. You path is one favourable to strong and lasting love. Yes, you will continue to be too cautious and careful where romance is concerned. Yes, you will continue to squander some of the affection and warmth that could be yours by being a little too strong, and perhaps stubborn, for some people. But in spite of all, you have such warmth to offer, and make such a steadfast, supportive partner, that you can hardly fail to enjoy the well-founded relationships that are your birthright.

Attachments at their strongest now will remain so for the next year at least, although the passionate influence of Mars is due to wane a little from next year onwards. New attachments are indicated whether you want them or not, but yours will be the controlling hand that decides exactly how close a new presence is allowed to get. You are not to be trifled with, and people do not take long to realise this about you. Problems will only arise if you start to shirk this power, to worry about exploiting your formidable strength of character. With both Venus and Mars as powerful influences at birth, albeit in different houses, you cannot contentedly be one of life's shrinking violets. Yours is the active, determining role. A relationship YOU want to happen WILL happen. A relationship YOU want to be stronger WILL be stronger.

Know that this is so, and enjoy the consequences! Yours is one of the most sensual signs of all, and few can extract more enduring happiness, romance, passion and companionship from a well-founded relationship than the Virgo female.

- health

In general, good news. You have many untroubled years ahead when your faculties, both physical and mental, will serve you well in pursuit of your ambitions. You are naturally disposed to take an interest in your health, and are rarely if ever inclined to be reckless in health matters or to take unnecessary risks.

Keep your sense of prudence where health is concerned - it has served you well so far, and will continue to do so.

There is only one warning sign. You cannot realistically expect to always enjoy the same strength, and the same stamina, as you do now. Taking the long-term view, the danger lies in not accepting this natural process of gradation and change, and finding yourself one day imposing too great a strain on yourself through failing to acknowledge the passing of the years. Beware your innate obstinacy and pride in these matters. There is no shame in making suitable adjustments to your life to reflect each change in station.

This is a long-term concern. You are in no way past your peak, and have many years ahead when you can still enjoy your natural vigour. But when the time comes to ease off a little, do not resist or resent this process.

This concludes the text of my prepared pseudo-astrological reading. Remember, this exact same reading was given to both clients - the only difference was that in the second version I replaced 'Virgo' with 'Taurus' all the way through.

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