With autumn in full stride, it's time to explore the transitional Zodiac signs of Virgo (23 August - 22 September), Libra (23 September - 22 October), and Scorpio (23 October - 21 November). Each sign comes with a myriad of symbols and stories. Come with us as we discover more about these intriguing histories, and dig deeper into the folklore behind their birthstone, birth flowers, and birth trees.
Virgo Birthstone: Sapphire
Virgos are known for their intellect and wisdom. Their birthstone - the sapphire - represents this enlightenment; its deep blue colour is said to hold endless knowledge and across different cultures has come to symbolise a deeper understanding of the unknown.
In ancient Persia, it was believed that the Earth sat atop a giant pedestal made of sapphire. It was the reflection of this sapphire that made the sky so blue.
Over in Greece, the sapphire was closely linked with the god Apollo. At the oracle at Delphi, the gemstone was often worn by devotees as a form of connection to the spiritual realm.
It is also prevalent in Greek mythology too. Legend has it, that as punishment for tricking Zeus, the Titan Prometheus was bound to a rock of sapphire as punishment. After being freed by Hercules, a link of the chain and part of the stone used to imprison him attached itself to his finger. Prometheus became the wearer of the first sapphire ring. It has been speculated, that the tradition of wearing sapphires among Greek royalty (and the extended Danish and British royal families) can be traced back to this ancient legend.
Virgo Birth Flower: Chrysanthemum
Popular in Easter cultures and traditions, the chrysanthemum has long been associated with nobility and longevity. As one of the few flowers to bloom in autumn, it represents joy and beauty, particularly in the face of adversity.
It is the emblem of Japan, symbolising the imperial family and the nation itself. Believed to symbolise long life, rejuvenation, and honour, chrysanthemums are gifted during periods of national celebration. The Emperor himself awards the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, which is the highest honour that can be bestowed in the military.
The flower is a common motif in Chinese culture too. Representing a desire for peace and prosperity, it is given to loved ones - particularly elderly relatives - as a wish for health, wealth, and long life.
The chrysanthemum is also the official flower for Mother’s Day in Australia, because of its nickname, 'mums'.
Virgo Birth Tree: Oak
The mighty oak, with its enduring strength and deep roots, has long symbolised steadfastness and endurance.
It was seen as a sacred tree in Celtic folklore, revered for its resilience and longevity. Oak trees were believed to have been placed on Earth by deities during lightning strikes. Druids, the Celtic priests, conducted rituals within these oak groves, believing that the tree's wisdom and power connected them to the divine.
Also sacred in Greek mythology, the oak tree was closely linked with Zeus. Symbolising his protection, the priests of Zeus would listen to the whispers of its leaves in the wind for messages from the divine.
Libra Birthstone: Opal
The kaleidoscopic colours of the opal symbolise love and equilibrium. As Libra's birthstone, the opal resonates with the sign's fair and balanced nature.
With 95% of the world's supply of opals found in Australia, it is no surprise that this gemstone is found throughout Aboriginal folklore. Various dreamtime stories tell of its origin and symbolism; it is said that these stones fell from the heavens during lightning strikes, or were sent to Earth from rainbows.
In Ancient Rome, the opal was seen as a symbol of purity and hope. Romans referred to it as the 'cupid stone', because its milky white complexion resembled the god of love.
Libra Birth Flower: Rose
As the most widely-recognised flower of love, the rose represents all things pure and romantic.
In Ancient Greece, the rose was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite and was her emblem of beauty. It is said that when her lover Adonis was fatally-wounded, rose bushes grew from her tears and his blood. The Romans similarly revered the rose, and held elaborate feasts in its honour.
Floriography, or the language of flowers, gained popularity during the Victorian era. It assigned different meaning to each colour of the rose family. For example, red roses symbolise romantic love, while pink and yellow roses represent friendship and joy.
Libra Birth Tree: Maple
The maple is the quintessential autumnal tree. It is a reminder that life's cycles and transitions bring with them unique beauty. In China, the maple tree is very closely associated with this changing of seasons, and the brilliant colour of its leaves symbolise the fleeting impermanence of life.
For the Celts, the maple was symbolic of creativity and inspiration, and was used in divination rituals. The tree's sap, which transforms into maple syrup, was viewed as a magical symbol of abundance and prosperity.
Now most commonly associated with Canada, the iconic maple leaf adorns the national flag, representing unity and resilience.
Scorpio Birthstone: Topaz
Scorpio is known as the most passionate star sign. November's birthstone - the blue topaz - is said to bring soothing, empathetic qualities that can temper the Scorpio's fire.
Dating as far back as Ancient Egypt, the topaz was a powerful force. Closely associated with the sun god, Ra, the stone was believed to offer talismanic protection and healing to those who wore it. This mystical gemstone was also believed by the Ancient Greeks to render the wearer invisible, and therefore became widely worn and coveted by warriors and spies.
Scorpio Birth Flower: Geranium
The geranium is said to possess a positive energy because of its vibrant and cheerful blooms. It has been associated throughout history with the idea of protection and wellbeing. In fact, in Ancient Egypt, the geranium was planted around the threshold of the home to ward off evil.
Later in Europe, the flower was gifted to friends and family in order to lift the spirits. The Victorians regarded the geranium as synonymous with 'comforting stupidity' on account of its simple look and bright colours. The flowers remained popular, however, because of their ability to counter melancholy, and have come to symbolise friendship and joy.
Scorpio Birth Tree: Walnut
With a sturdy trunk and deep roots, the walnut tree embodies resilience and strength. The tree's capacity to bear fruit and endure challenging conditions makes it a symbol of abundance, stability, and grounding.
In Chinese mythology, it has long been considered a symbol of longevity, with walnuts believed to offer many health benefits.
In Celtic folklore, the walnut tree was associated with wisdom, and Druids used the tree's leaves to create potions for prophetic visions. The fruit was linked with fertility, and it was claimed that by planting a maple tree on your land, it could bring forth new life. Later in rural France, it would become custom for men to hide walnut leaves in the shoes of their sweethearts, to secure love and fidelity.