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Highlights for Aug. 16-22, 2021: Tending the Fire

Tending the Fire

Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone.

A strong hand

Here’s Virgo’s inherent contradiction: Ruled by intellectual Mercury, it’s also a physical earth sign. When Mars passes this way, it tends to work both the body and the mind much too hard, and has to guard against nervous exhaustion and stressed-out, vesuvian meltdowns. As Mercury comes together with Mars here (Aug. 18, 8:28 pm PDT), stress hits its peak, and Virgo can cut you up in little pieces with its words.

This, of course, is an eventuality to be scrupulously avoided.

This conjunction takes place on the Sabian symbol 13 Virgo: A strong hand supplanting political hysteria. At a moment when the world seems to be having multiple meltdowns at any given moment, this fleeting little conjunction asks us to pause and invoke Virgo’s cool, sane, and analytical side. A strong hand doesn’t have to be a fist.

Out on a limb

The accepted astrological wisdom is that Jupiter is fabulous, and that any planet touched by its beneficence will be a happy camper. I mean, I like Jupiter as much as the next person; but like any planet, it has a downside. Ask a snake that’s swallowed a rodent larger than it can swallow – Jupiter’s eyes are often bigger than it’s stomach. And in its enthusiasm to take us to higher heights, it can make us underestimate risk, as well.

As the Sun opposes Jupiter this week (Aug. 19, 5:28 pm PDT), it’s on the Sabian symbol 28 Leo, Little birds on the limb of a large tree. Picture them there, so happy, so exuberant! Now see the Sabian symbol for Jupiter at 28 Aquarius: A tree felled and sawed.

Ruh roh!

Look, this is still a pretty nice aspect. Just don’t go too far out on a limb – and have a backup plan in place, just in case your tree gets cut down!


Uranus, the planet of liberty, unpredictability, and rebellion, turns retrograde this week (Aug. 19, 6:40 pm PDT). A transiting planet that’s retrograde appears to behave contrary to its usual mode – in the case of Uranus, seeming to toe the line and go along with the crowd.

But the key phrase here is “seeming to.” Retrograde motion is an illusion, and so is this reversal of character.

Uranus will retrograde all the way back to 10 Taurus, which it last visited between April 19 and May 6. A feeling of liberation that emerged at that time will be questioned in the coming months. What are you willing to give up, or put up with, to maintain your sense of freedom? You’ll be much clearer about that by the time Uranus turns direct on Jan. 18, 2022.


How did you do with that Mercury/Mars conjunction earlier in the week? Did you rally your mental and physical reserves in the direction of Virgo’s cool, calm, and collected side, or explode in a stress-induced tantrum?

As Mercury and Mars trine newly-retrograde Uranus (Mercury on Aug. 20, 2021, 1:06 am PDT and Mars on Aug. 21 at 11:37 pm PDT), the result will be more of the same. If you subdued your stress and found inner calm, Uranus will offer innovative breakthroughs and a sense of liberation. And if you gave in to anger and exhaustion, Uranus will turn it up to 11, throwing unpredictability and rebellion into the mix.

Either way, Virgo, as an earth sign, has the power to ground Uranus’ electrical charge. Immerse yourself in rituals that calm the mind and body. Take walks. Clean the yard. Paint the garage. As you do, you’ll find not just a sense of calm, but unexpected inspiration as well.

Tending the fire

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. 22, 2:35 pm 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 and that 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 flames.

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.


Here is our second of this summer’s two Aquarius Full Moons (Aug. 22, 2021, 5:01 am PDT). This one  falls on the final degree of Aquarius, on the Sabian symbol, The field of Ardath in bloom. At the first Aquarius Full Moon, on July 23, we saw how important it is to be part of a community. Nevertheless, at the Leo New Moon – which was in difficult aspect to Saturn and Uranus – we may have been determined to push ahead, on our own, to pursue a project of the heart. And at this Full Moon, we begin to see the results. Hopefully, our garden is in full bloom. And the Sun’s Sabian symbol, An unsealed letter, should be bringing good news.

Writing and images © 2020-2021 by April Elliott Kent

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