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Astrology Highlights for Aug. 21-27, 2023: A Wider Lens

All That We Need

Venus makes the second in a series of three squares to Jupiter this week (Aug. 22, 2023, 5:16 am PDT – the first was on June 11, the last is on Sep. 16). Writing about that first square, I suggested we examine whether we’re spending the priceless hours of our lives on things that bring satisfaction and happiness. This second square, which takes place while Venus is retrograde, has me thinking about changes in fortune.

Famously, lottery winners often end up squandering their fortunes and profoundly unhappy in their relationships. What initially seems like the answers to all their problems actually brings new ones: how to use new wealth wisely, and how to distinguish those who care about you from those who want something from you.

But Venus retrograde can bring the solutions to problems like these, if we follow its prescription for introspection and assessment of our true value. Money is so often a stand-in for self-esteem, and if we feel confident about who we are and can cover our basic necessities, it’s much easier to contain Jupiter’s hunger for more.

The Magic of Untidy Spaces

Born with Mars in Virgo, I was a passionately tidy little girl. And yet, some of my happiest hours were spent at the very untidy home of some dear relatives. There was less pressure there, and more space for imagination.

Mars in Virgo symbolizes a passion for order. But as it opposes Neptune this week (Aug. 22, 2023, 1:34 pm PDT), that passion gives way to the magic and inspiration of untidy places, where the tyranny of orderliness gives way to restfulness.

The opposition is an aspect that requires balance to make it work best, though, and on some days the balance seems off. Neptune is like a tidal wave that overwhelms our modest efforts to keep things tidy. There are no brooms large enough to sweep up the messes that we face.

But Mars in Virgo reminds us that the way through the fog and to put our lives in order is to break things into small, actionable steps, put them on a checklist, and work our way through them. When the future is blurry and the big picture is discouraging, stay busy, and keep your eyes on what you can do today.

Sacred Service

Like the Roman virgins charged with tending the sacred flames of Vesta, Virgo’s job description includes duty, ritual, and devotion. As the Sun enters this sign of sacred service (Aug. 23, 2023, 2:01 am PDT), it initiates a season of renewed dedication to whatever we value most.

What is our devotional offering to the world? It’s less about anything we do, specifically, and more about the way we do it. Virgo’s dominion includes those quiet acts we perform regularly to keep things going. Watering the plants. Washing the dishes. Caring for the animals. Doing the laundry.

If those seem like small things, imagine a time you found yourself in a place that was dirty, decrepit, and cluttered, where animals foraged for food, dirty laundry and dirty dishes were piled high, and everything smelled bad.

Try to live an orderly life in disorderly surroundings. See how well you’ll eat if no one tends the crops. Try to survive the coming winter without Vesta’s sacred flame.

Try to live in a world without Virgo, and you’ll see that neglecting the small things turns out to be a very big thing indeed.


Mercury turns retrograde this week (Aug. 23, 2023, 12:59 pm PDT, through Sep. 15). At the beginning of each calendar year, I try to plot my major projects and obligations for the next twelve months. But I always seem to forget to include Mercury’s retrograde periods.

It’s not that we need to shut down and stop doing everything while Mercury appears to be backward in his orbit. But overscheduling and moving at a hectic pace is not even close to being the best use of Mercury’s retrograde times. Ideally, we’d schedule retreats during those three weeks, three or four times each year, the better to do retrograde Mercury’s best work: reflection, retooling, recalibration.

Maybe Mercury retrograde is best imagined as naptime. It’s when our brains thumb through all the bits of information we’ve been cramming into them for the past few months, categorize what’s useful, and delete what isn’t. Let’s see if we can find time to slow down and let our brains do their work.

A Wider Lens

By the time I first flew in an airplane as a teenager, I’d taken innumerable road trips with my family and was used to that slower pace of travel. For the first time, I covered territory in two hours that would once have taken two days of driving.

Unquestionably, there’s something nice about a road trip. You gain an intimacy with the terrain, which was fascinating in the 1960s and 70s, before every city and town in America looked quite similar. You savored every inch of the journey. And I missed that by flying, but my vistas increased dramatically.

Sometimes, making a bigger life for ourselves requires that we let go of some of the treasured minutia of each mile so that we can cover new ground, and more of it. This First Quarter Moon (Aug. 24, 2023, 2:57 am PDT) positions the Sun in down-to-earth, eye-on-details Virgo against the Moon in Sagittarius and its wider lens. Taking a leap of faith can be scary. But if you’ve paid attention to detail and planned carefully, now is the time to trust that you’re ready to jump in a plane and fly into your future.

No False Moves

As Mars in Virgo trines Pluto (Aug. 24, 2023, 5:23 pm PDT), a resolute, steadfast sense of purpose is the best protection from Pluto’s fierce gaze. Walk in the confidence that comes from having done good, diligent work, and Pluto’s power will support and possibly elevate you this week.

We often fall into the trap of framing Pluto in the worst possible terms, but he represents the influence and power that can be yours when you bring your most truthful, authentic self to the world. There isn’t a lot of room for false moves where Pluto is concerned – but then, Mars in Virgo is rarely false.

Worth Fighting For

Imagine – or you can recall? – being a sunny, creative, and uncomplicated child who wants to share something with the world. Maybe it’s a song, or a joke, or a dance step. You tug at mom or dad’s sleeve, desperate for attention, but they’re distracted, or critical. If it happens once, you’ll usually bounce back. But if you’re routinely shut down by those you love, you’ll learn to hide your true self.

The Sun opposes Saturn this week (Aug. 27, 2023, 1:28 am PDT), pitting sunny optimism against criticism or censure. It can be a rough transit for launching something from your heart out into the world. If you do, and the world is unreceptive or negative, you will need to figure out whether this thing is worth fighting for.

We don’t want to let Saturn stop us in our tracks altogether, but he’s not necessarily wrong for suggesting that refinement, discipline, or hard work would make our creative, loving efforts more effective. But there’s no question that the joyful, creative spark is the true thing, and Saturn should only be listened to if its message is constructive.

A Mars Restrained

What does a warrior do when he’s forced to wear his morning suit at breakfast and eat with his pinkie sticking out? He behaves charmingly, sparkles with wit, and when no one is looking he picks up his butter knife and rubs his fingertip across its blade, wishing it were a little bit sharper.

Mars, the warrior planet, enters Libra, the sign of fairness, peace, and pleasure this week (Aug. 27, 2023, 6:20 am PDT – through Oct. 11) for a nearly five-week stay. It last visited this genteel sign in September 2021; this could be a beneficial time to revisit any projects that were left uncompleted then, or conflicts left unresolved.

It’s definitely time to clear the air and restore balance to your life, particularly in your relationships. Not just romantic relationships, either, but all your important relationships —with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers – need recalibration. Mars in Libra prefers to avoid conflict, but a Mars restrained can become an edgy Mars. Tension and frustration build as Mars transits here, particularly as it approaches its square to Pluto (Oct. 8).

Writing and images © 2017-23 by April Elliott Kent

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1 comment to " Astrology Highlights for Aug. 21-27, 2023: A Wider Lens "

  • April, reading your interpretations of astrological events, and enjoying your clever illustrations, always leaves me feeling more hopeful, in control, and just a bit happier than before! Thank you and your multitude of creative expressions.

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