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Virgo New Moon: What’s Right with You?

A a writer, I’ve worked with my share of editors. I’ve appreciated every one of them. A couple of them, I’ve downright loved.

The editors I’ve loved working with have had something important in common. Their focus was on what was right with my work, instead of what was wrong with it. Eventually we got around to refining the disjointed thoughts and cleaning up the sentences that occasionally trailed off without any ending at all. In this, they were every bit as exacting as their job required. But the process began with their enthusiasm for the best of my writing, followed by coaching designed to help me bring the rest of it up to the same level.

All this is soothing for the writer’s ego, of course. But there’s also a practical lesson in there for any of us who find ourselves in a position of critiquing others, as parents, bosses, coaches, or even friends: most of the time, high standards combined with encouragement inspires better results than criticism alone.

This particular New Moon, with no fewer than five planets in Virgo, is a good time to meditate on one of the keywords commonly associated with this sign: criticism. Virgo’s criticism is a consequence of two other keyword qualities, discrimination and discernment. Like its opposite sign, Pisces, Virgo is idealistic, embracing dreams of perfection—but Virgo can be a bit pessimistic about the capacity of mere mortals to live up to these ideals.

While Pisces is blessed with the ability to overlook imperfection, Virgo is tasked with seeing each failing that stands between us and the vision. Sometimes, it must be said, Virgo indulges in negative criticism; the world is full of faults and mediocrity, and Virgo’s inability to ignore these things can turn her into a cranky scold. But sometimes, Virgo criticizes because she is enraptured by a vision of greatness that lies only a few punctuation marks away.

Sometimes, Virgo criticizes because she is enraptured by a vision of greatness that lies only a few punctuation marks away.

My mother was born with the Moon in Virgo. When I tell astrologers this, they tsk-tsk—”You poor thing!” they say, imagining a childhood spent practicing hospital corners and declining verbs under the supervision of a scowling prison matron. It’s true that Mom’s standards for us were high. Get good grades. Be polite. Always do your best. Be the bigger person. These were hard to live up to, and when we were small and learning these lessons, Mom tolerated nothing less than our best effort.

Expectations like these could be pretty rough coming from someone who doesn’t like you and has little hope that her opinion will improve with prolonged exposure. But luckily (and perhaps this is the influence of her Venus in Pisces peeking through), Mom made us feel that she really liked us. And even when she scolded, she prefaced her comments with something like, “I know you’re better than that.” Even when we really, truly weren’t.

Mom used to say that most people behave just about the way you expect them to behave. If you treat them as though you assume they’ll do the correct thing, then they will go out of their way to prove you right. I never figured out whether she was right about this, or whether she was just a really good judge of character and surrounded herself with diamonds in the rough. But for whatever reason, for more than three decades, I watched the unlikeliest people blossom in her presence. People loved her—not just because she was warm and friendly, but because she made them feel they were better people than they had ever imagined they could be.

I thought of Mom when a Virgo friend posted about honesty one day on Facebook. She wrote something like, “People think that being honest means criticizing people for everything that’s wrong about them. But I believe honesty also means that when someone is really wonderful, or has done something amazing, then I should tell them that.”

I like this perspective. My friend was not advocating that we massage others with condescending, Hallmark sentimentality. Rather, she reminded me that criticism doesn’t have to be brutal. That maybe criticism is best not when it tells us why we aren’t not perfect, but when it reminds us what we’re capable of being on our best day.

If you find yourself in a position of offering someone a different vision for herself, why not dispense with the litany of errors and failings, and instead offer a vision of what she might become— and more importantly, the ideal she envisions for herself. What if everything were to come together in just the right way—if she found the true center of herself, committed to the hard work of being and doing better, of humbly serving her vision? What would her paradise look like? And how can you help her get there?

© 2013-2024 April Elliott Kent

3 comments to " Virgo New Moon: What’s Right with You? "

  • Tevya

    This is incredibly timely! I had an incident with a coworker yesterday morning, that involved me losing my temper with her.
    She happens to be a Virgo sun, while I’m a Pisces sun, but I’m in a senior position and have been training her for the last two years. We have also formed a relatively intimate relationship as friends, which makes the work relationship a little tricky to navigate when things aren’t “right”. After sitting on it overnight, and grappling with my own ego, I sent her a text this morning before we got into the office apologizing for losing my temper and asked her if we could chat over lunch.
    We proceeded to have a lovely hour of communicating with one another, and at the end of the lunch we were both thanking each other for being open, honest and vulnerable. This is a great lesson for me with her right now, and she and I are both the type of women who build each other up, though sometimes old conditioning and such can throw a wrench into things. I’m looking at this as a huge learning moment for us both, and thanks for putting words to what I know would be my best foot forward in this continuing relationship with my coworker/friend. Your last paragraph sums up exactly what I will now make as my mantra with respect to her, and others who may find themselves in that position with me.
    Thank you April! I love your blog posts!

  • Virgo Moon here, and daughter of a Virgo Rising professor of English. I get where you’re coming from! I enjoy your writing and appreciate your perspective. And your website too — the graphics and design are fabulous. Thank you!

  • Mand

    Thanks for this! I have a Virgo Venus and have struggled to be kind, because very often I think I *am* being kind by pointing out all the ways someone’s effort could be improved – which of course comes over as nit-picking, not kindness. I’ve pondered this, and I think I assume that everyone’s already as aware of the details, and their own flaws, as I am. Certainly I apply the same high standards to myself as to others. Life has given me situations for learning how to critique effectively, but when relaxed with loved ones I still don’t always take enough care.

    My mother (Virgo Neptune, Leo Sun) used to complain that her own mother (Virgo Sun) was unable to give praise without fault-finding hard on its heels. I could see that my grandmother was doing it to help – in other words out of love – and not to put her down. But they never resolved this clash of communication styles (priorities?).

    To practise the kind version of self-criticism, I remind myself that Virgo is also about serving and looking after others – and that is a major way that I show love. And I certainly don’t believe that it’s good to gloss over faults (in a person, in a relationship), I’ll always call them out no matter how starry-eyed I am overall! But still. It’s so important to build confidence and to avoid breaking someone’s wish to improve – improvement never happens if they feel it’s impossible to become good enough.

    My learning to cushion the feedback is still ongoing. 😉

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