In my travels through life as an astrologer I have found that Virgo is the sign most people would rather not be. “What? I have Virgo rising? No!” “You mean I’m not really a Libra, I’m actually a Virgo? I didn’t want that.” “Virgo is so nit-picky. . . Virgos are nags. . . Virgos micromanage.” I say, why all the Virgo hate? Virgo is a wonderful sign with so many good qualities—why focus on the bad ones?
The trouble with Virgo is the perfectionism. Virgo types have a tremendous sensitivity to order and tidiness, whether they can live up to that or not. A Virgo who lives in a mess and is constantly overwhelmed is a truly miserable human being because they cannot shut off the need for order, even when they are not able to create it for themselves. A love of order leads to perfectionism, which can lead to criticism and judgment. Virgos can be very critical and what you don’t realize is that, while the Virgo in your life may be critical towards you, he is likely twice as critical towards himself. For every nagging comment that comes out his mouth at you, two have already been directed at himself and the one that landed on you is merely the one that escaped his rigorous self-control. When I tell Virgos this, their shoulders relax visibly in relief. It is very tiring to always be the only one who seems to care about quality.
The Virgo type is a perfectionist because Virgo approaches life as an artisan. An artisan is someone who crafts a perfect, beautiful and functional object. The difference between an artisan and an artist is that an artist creates objects that carry beauty or meaning alone, whereas to be an artisan is to be a craftsman. An artisan applies technical skill to ends both artistic and practical. A well-crafted thing is a delight each time you use it and its beauty and meaning spring from its useful and well-executed design. This is what Virgo is about: making the very best thing for the use intended, and then shaping, honing and fine-tuning until it simply can’t be made any better. And a Virgo type can’t help but apply this sensibility to everything in their life.
What’s a Virgo to do with this obsession? The story I’m about to tell you contains an antidote to Virgo’s perfectionism. You may have heard this story before; now you’ll hear how it applies to Virgo. It’s the story of how Michelangelo came to carve the David.
Michelangelo’s David is a study in perfection. To begin with, the statue is massive, several times the size of a human being at 17 feet tall. In addition, it is in perfect proportion. It is the very icon of masculine beauty and glows with archetypal grace. The story goes that someone once asked Michelangelo how he did it. “The statue is so amazing, how ever did you create it?” His answer was revealing. “The trouble lay not in carving the statue. The trouble lay in finding the piece of marble that had the statue in it. Then all I had to do was carve away everything that wasn’t the David.”
When Michelangelo said that, he was displaying a Virgoan sensitivity to perfection, but with an important difference—he stayed focused on what was right and let go of what was wrong. Virgo’s hypersensitivity to imperfection derives directly from its sensitivity to perfection itself. Virgo knows when something is imperfect because it hurts, almost physically, to be around it. If a Virgo type can keep their focus on what is perfect in themselves, others, and every situation, they will be empowered to remove what is not perfect until what is left approximates perfection. Michelangelo had this one figured out. Do you think that, as he removed every chip from that block, he paused to criticize that chip for existing? Did he wander around his studio vilifying all the dross that he’d chipped off the statue? Of course not. He stayed focused on the beautiful form within the block and by removing everything that wasn’t that, created a miracle.
The key to living life as Virgo lies in accepting one’s own perfectionism as an asset, as the driver of one’s existence. It is to practice seeing the perfect form inside the block, to ignore the block and to focus so purely on the perfection inside it that that perfection emerges, almost of its own accord. There is no criticism, no nagging, no attention at all on what is not perfect. The carving happens with no effort. The perfect form within emerges naturally. That way of shaping is the heart and soul of Virgo.
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Photo of the David is by David Gaya.