Virgo New Moon Mandala painted by Sarah Berry

Line Mandala from Mandala Colouring Book by Barry Stevens

available at

This is the first of an occasional series written about the expertise of each Sun Sign. The articles will be found under the category “Zodiac Masterclass” so that eventually there will be 12 such articles, e.g. “The Libran Guide to Relationships”, “The Sagittarian Guide to Optimism”, “The Cancerian Guide to Parenting” etc. Each article will be written by someone who has the Sun Sign in question. With the season of going back to school, and starting further education courses, we all try to be focussed and organized in the month of Virgo.

Here Asia Haleem writes about clearing our clutter.

Asia started out as an Art Historian (London University) but when embarking on a doctorate to explore the roots of astronomical imagery in the ancient near east, got sidetracked into writing two books using the information she came across, about priestesses and goddess festivals in the ancient world.

For more information about her background, please refer to her guest post (Babylonians, Mexicans and the Total Count), and interview (No. 1 in the series).

The Virgo Guide To Decluttering and Cleaning
Asia Haleem

Having moved from a house to a flat, and then spent 20 years commuting and spending most of the day at work, for a long time I lived a life of keeping a semblance of order at home which involved carrier bags containing a month’s stuff at a time put under beds or behind rows of books -just as a temporary measure.

But a year ago when I finally stepped off the roundabout and found myself at home all the time I said to myself, I can now really tidy up (thinking it would take about a week). I was wrong: I’ve been at it a year now and there’s a long way to go – but I’m cool about it (Virgos can cope with phases of chaos if they are steps on the way to order). These are some of the strategies I have arrived at in order not to panic.


I would start out with rooting out the things you know you can get rid of straight away, in bagfuls, because this gives you a good initial feel of achievement. In the UK we have a lot of charity shops which sell second-hand stuff people have thrown out, and if they’re not nearby you can usually phone and ask them to collect. My main throw-out bulk categories are clothes (if you haven’t worn it for two years, chuck it) and books (do you need all those cookery books, and will you ever read those crime paperbacks a second time?). But also what about the carrier bags, jars, and other kitchen items that you virtuously kept to recycle, but are now gathering in dust (also the mouldy herbs)?

Getting rid of big amounts of obvious junk creates space for you to now begin the more detailed operation of shifting belongings around into better combinations – and you need the odd spare shelf or cupboard in which to park material that is ‘in transition’.


You say to yourself that you’ll spend a whole day decluttering, but here’s what I discovered: you need alternative strategies to follow to avoid getting tired, bored, or sheer overwhelmed.

  • It’s better to put aside one day a week to concentrate on radical tidying;
  • If that doesn’t work, one particular morning every week (like Sunday morning) can be put aside, so it becomes a habit;
  • Or, deal with one category of belongings at a time, like books, then clothes, then indoor plants, then windowsill ornaments or silver polishing – have a real binge on one kind of thing at a time.
  • Conversely, deal with one corner, window area or cupboard of each room only in one session. For instance a corner I cleared recently involved tidying the books on the shelves above, pulling out the filing cabinet and hoovering just that section of carpet underneath which usually I don’t get to, spraying with moth spray while it’s exposed, wiping the walls, dusting the ornaments on the filing cabinet and even polishing the cabinet with wood polish. You will never have to come back to it again for a year, or even two years in my case!

If in the process of doing a corner you find stuff which would be better placed elsewhere, I allow myself to park that in a temporary area until its new home in another corner is ready for it. You can even put them in storage boxes under the dining room table – you can get such pretty ones these days in hardware or stationery shops. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you need to allow yourself time to work out this vast three-dimensional Chinese Puzzle!


There are some things you have to put together over the year for annual events like your Tax Return or Christmas. In the hurly burly of everyday life, I have one drawer in a plan chest into which I chuck all invoices and statements, come the day I have to draw up my tax return. It depends how far you’ve reached in your decluttering journey, but I’ve now reached a level of refinement where I now have a concertina folder tabbed with labels such as Electricity, Phone, Office Supplies where if I stop for just ten seconds longer I can put the invoice into the right compartment and save myself a lot of work come Tax Return day, since they are ready sorted.

As the year goes on, and you have established some main blocks of order, you may even have time, for instance, to go through all your mortgage or credit card papers and see that all the leaflets and secondary correspondence about meetings now past can go in the bin. Needless to say, shred anything with your name and address on, and financial documents, or chits with your credit card details on. A strong double-cut shredder can be obtained these days for £30 and it will last for ever as long as you don’t stuff too much into the feeder. Shreddings makes good compost interwoven with vegetable matter!


I’ve gradually started to treat cluttering as a game which goes on for ever (a bit like Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game of Life on the domestic level). I have started to enjoy the never-ending process in itself, rather than expecting to ever arrive at a perfectly ordered set of interiors and belongings in which I display myself, as if in a Museum cabinet! The thing is, if you don’t make some attempt at it you really do descend into chaos. Think more of establishing oases of order within it, dealing with the most important ones first. This will set your mind at rest and make you feel you can run the rest of your life knowing where a thing is when you need it (very important to Virgos, but I ’m sure also to all the other Signs)!

There’s also something calming about a freshly cleaned floor or pair of curtains because material surfaces can once more interface with the invisible divine world with the dirt taken off . It is absolutely true that cleanliness is next to Godliness, and that domestic order mirrors Cosmic Order. This is what the soul feeds on, so make some parts of your house or flat into a sanctuary for you and others. You will get a lot further by doing a little a lot of times, rather than trying to do it all in one go, which nearly always plough s into the sand.