From Wikipedia’s Virga page:
“In meteorology, a virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground.”
After meditating on this topic of the Sky Lords & the Majonans/Magonians, etc., I’ve often wondered, what if the Virga are lady Sky Lords descending? It only makes sense, after all… if you think about it.
Wikipedia adds some etymology:
The word is derived from the Latin virga, meaning “rod, sprig, staff, branch, shoot, twig, spray, sprout, switch, graft.”
This is obviously the same etymology as virgin:
“c. 1200, “unmarried or chaste woman noted for religious piety and having a position of reverence in the Church,” from Anglo-French and Old French virgine “virgin; Virgin Mary,” from Latin virginem (nominative virgo) “maiden, unwedded girl or woman,” also an adjective, “fresh, unused,” probably related to virga “young shoot,” via a notion of “young” (compare Greek talis “a marriageable girl,” cognate with Latin talea “rod, stick, bar”).”
Compare this to a word with a lot of letters in common, virago. Now, I never heard this word before, and found it while doing a thesaurus check of synonyms for “bitch,” which is weird.
“A virago is a woman who demonstrates exemplary and heroic qualities. The word comes from the Latin word virāgō (genitive virāginis) meaning vigorous’ from vir meaning “man” or “man-like” (cf. virile and virtue) to which the suffix -āgō is added, a suffix that creates a new noun of the third declension with feminine grammatical gender.
Modern use of the word virago generally takes the disparaging sense. Thus virago joined pejoratives such as termagant, mannish, amazonian and shrew to describe women who acted aggressively or like men. The word virago has almost always had an association with cultural gender transgression. There are recorded instances of viragos (such as Joan of Arc) fighting battles, wearing men’s clothing, or receiving the tonsure.“
Anyway, this is all very liminal. The precipitation which descends from the clouds, but never quite lands – or does it in some subtle etheric Sky Lord form? The virgin, who does not know (Biblically speaking) man. The virago, the woman who is like a man…
This lands for me within the Matter of Quatria pretty squarely on a figure I’ve called by different names, but most often the Red Spear Maiden, or Red Star Maiden. Some elements of her story are sort of fractally mentioned in The Lost Direction, but a key episode (her battle with the world-encircling dragon, Uquemoth) is elaborated in more detail in the follow-up volume (The Octave of Time), which I’m about to begin working on again as soon as I go through the final proofs of Conspiratopia.
Here’s a snippet of this character who is a virago in the maybe more classical, less pejorative sense of the word. We might even just call her a bad-ass today, I think…
“All at once from within, the sunshield Varnathil erupted in righteous holy flame. The light of its fire traced the path of the Maidenspear up into the brain of the dead serpent, incinerating flesh and blood, sinew and bone and tooth. And the Red Spear Maiden, who was neither dead nor defeated, thrust the spearpoint ever upward, until the head of the serpent erupted in flame, knocking both wolf and hunter backwards with violence. When they recovered, they saw her standing there, amid the smoldering ruin of the head, revealed in full radiance. Sehon looked upon her, and this time he did not go blind.”
Going blind is a reference to seeing the goddess in classical I think Greek & Roman mythology. According to Britannica, it’s actually Tireisias who went blind on seeing Athena:
“Another version has it that Tiresias was blinded by Athena after he saw her bathing. Chariclo begged her to help him, so Athena, instead of restoring his ability to see the physical world, gave him the ability to see the future.”
Here’s a little more on the Bath of Athena, an extended tale from the 3rd century BCE. Athena was most definitely a virago… though immortal.