This morning I tried my hand at a new skill: Making buckwheat crepes. Everything was going along smoothly. The sunshine was out, the birds singing, and I’m making…crepes! I fantasize about buckwheat crepes becoming the specialty I am known for. Friends invite me over for the weekend for my crepes. Working along with the recipe, I don’t accurately gage the batter pour. And so I learn lesson number one: Crepes are best consumed as extremely paper-thin, delicate wrappers meant to highlight the delicious insides. Otherwise, they’re just pancakes. Undeterred by imperfection, I shred some goat cheese and before the crepe-now-pancake cools I quickly sautee some spinach (where was my sous chef?). Sitting down to a floppy looking grey green thing with cold cheese I optimistically tuck in only to discover the reason why it is always a good idea to wash even pre-washed spinach: There is a worm in my crepe.

It’s Virgo season, an ambitious time when we want to improve our self and get better at who we are and what we do. If we follow the urge, this invariably involves learning new skills, bettering our self — and falling short… because starting something new doesn’t mean we are going to get it perfectly right the first, second or even the third try. That’s not the point. For Virgo, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness must go hand in hand with simply trying. Sometimes though, through fear, negative self-talk or criticism, we sell our self short… and stop just short of flying.

That almost happened to me. Awhile back, my book proposal was rejected by a publisher in a very “don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out” way. There was subjective criticism given, criticism that had me fruitlessly searching for a kernel of helpfulness. I couldn’t find it. It was, in many ways, a lesson in how not to break up with someone, when “I don’t think we’re a good fit” always suffices.  No one deserves the heartbreak of rejection with a laundry list of negativity accompanying. After all, that person is probably right for someone else- someone who sees their arrogance as confidence, their jadedness as funny and with whom they will work out their mother or father issues. Simply, we were not the right fit. Anyhow, I didn’t let the Critic win. Years later, I published that book- to accolades. I haven’t yet heard one of those criticisms.

When we meet The Critic it’s as fraught with mis-steps as first time crepe-making. On one hand, there’s always room for improvement. That’s the curse of knowing we are perfect in Spirit, but as humans we are not. It also helps to know the difference between constructive feedback and destructive criticism. When we receive constructive feedback from others, after the sting of imperfection has passed, we can step back see some truth. Destructive criticism, on the other hand, is short-sighted, and speaks from ego rather than heart. We do, however, need to be free to say “this area needs improvement” to each other –but without the Critic. Just ask the Gottmans, a pair of scientists who married and have researched marital stability and divorce prediction for the last 40 years, who say criticism is one of four of the most corrosive behavior patterns in a relationship. They even call these behaviors the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse“. Because, bottom line: criticism, whether it’s happening in our minds or our marriage, is toxic.

This is a Solar New Moon Eclipse. Eclipses affect everyone differently. The instability of this celestial event, while unnerving, helps us to psychically clean house. What presents may force us to face where we’ve been in denial around or have overlooked. We might also look to this eclipse time as a potent period for willingly giving up, tossing out, or cleaning up a way of being that is no longer serving our growth. We could ditch old toxic habits of criticism and perfectionism.

Virgo New Moon is classically a great time for skill-building, committing to getting healthy, and noticing any areas in your life that, with elbow grease and instruction, you can take to the next level. An eclipse supercharges the fix-it-up impulse.  Even if we may also have to contend with an unexpected worm in our spinach pancake. Chiron.

Yes, Chiron in Pisces opposes this lunation, giving us a chance to either pick at a hurt, or let it go. The problem with Chiron is one of perception, of seeing any pain we feel as part of the human experience instead of feeling victimized. Which is why this is also a time for tempering self-doubt with self-acceptance. Virgo offers instructive advice: Take the long arduous path of self-improvement in small, humble steps…whether learning how to make a perfect crepe, publishing a book, or vigilantly self-healing when we discover yet another human ouch. We can strive for perfection while continuously yanking out the thought-weeds of self-doubt and re-seeding those with self-love. We can learn to accept perfection is an impossibility, and that sometimes good enough isn’t just settling… it really is good enough.