Astrology 8/22-8/28: The Burning Gate

Astrology 8/22-8/28: The Burning Gate

Many events have led us to this fiery threshold, and it has come time to cross it This week delivers the long-delayed conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius on the 23rd.  The union of the two planets, on top of the red star Antares, is one of the year’s most dramatic configurations.  Look up after the Sun sets and you’ll see the three in a line in the middle of the sky.

Yet immediately after crossing through this forboding archway, we are greeted by the considerably sweeter weekend pile up of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in Virgo.  The speak to the sorting of outcomes and implications which must inevitably follow, though with Mercury so close to its August 30th retrograde station, the process is likely to be complicated.

A Crowded Field

The week begins with the Sun’s entrance into tropical Virgo on Monday.  Yet Virgo’s fields are already full of laboring planets-  Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and the Dragon’s Head all await the Sun in the Virgin’s sign.  This pile-up of planets places a heavy emphasis on the Virgo themes of sorting, problem solving and analysis.  There’s an excellent chance you’ll find yourself digging through details you often ignore.

The first leg of the Sun’s journey through Virgo will be the most difficult, for as soon as our star enters the sign, he begins a T-square configuration with Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces.  T-squares bring up and feed tangly situations, where it feels like there’s not way to adequately reconcile conflicting priorities or perspectives.  Though the answers can often be clearly seen in retrospect, it’s difficult to figure out situations while inside the T-square.  This tension will grow for the next 10 days, until it climaxes with the dramatic total solar eclipse on September 1st.

Between The Pillars

Within spitting distance of Saturn all month, on Tuesday the 23rd,  Mars and Saturn conjoin at 9 degrees of Sagittarius.  Then, on the 25th the red planet squares Neptune in Pisces.   This is a tremendously significant configuration, as it brings together the two big storylines of 2016- the ferocity of Mars’ retrograde cycle and the disorientation and delusion of Saturn and Neptune’s square.

The 23rd-25th will thus be a particularly difficult, but interesting, set of days for a number of people and collectives.  The most troublesome moment is likely to be when the Moon in Gemini aspects the configuration on the Thursday, the 25th, which, with the Sun in Virgo, will make a one-day Mutable Grand Cross.

If you can, avoid scheduling anything vital during this span of days, as there will be a lot of tense planetary background noise.  Furthermore, it would be wise to come into this week with a commitment to remaining solution oriented, if and when things get complicated.  The energy of a Mars-Saturn conjunction can make it very easy to get mired in intensely negative states.  Don’t expect disaster, but don’t be shocked if you end up needing to maneuver or take a deep breath.  A deep breath, or several, might be called for, as Mars-Saturn conjunctions often put a lot of stress on people’s bodies.  Be respectful of your limitations this week, and take extra-good care of yourself.

Even though Mars and Saturn will dish out a fair amount of punishment, the two planet’s union will also provide exactly the right amount of pressure to bring some amazing achievements into being. Diamonds aren’t born of sunny days and cool breezes.  As I wrote in my summary of this August’s astrology:

Yet there is virtue to be found and forged during their conjunctions, and great victories to be won.  It is perhaps only under the intense combined gaze of Mars and Saturn that we can develop perfect discipline and industry, where we learn to set aside childish wants and do exactly what needs to be done, without hesitation or internal conflict.

Meanwhile, on a collective level, Mars’ encounter with the Saturn-Neptune square should facilitate a variety of big moments in this year’s more outrageous storylines, such as Donald Trump’s campaign for president and the Brexit.

Outcomes, Implications and Upgrades

The Mars-Saturn business dies down as we approach the weekend, which sees Venus join Jupiter and Mercury at the very end of Virgo.  Generally, Venus-Jupiter conjunctions are very positive, and it will certainly feel better than the Mars-Saturn conjunction, but there are a couple of factors which complicate this union of the benefics.  The first is the fact that Virgo is the one sign that both Jupiter and Venus are considered to have a difficult time operating in.  The critical, analytic nature of Virgo can easily neutralize the jolly expansiveness of Jupiter and the positivity and grace of Venus.  Thus, the benefics sometimes have a hard time delivering good times while within the detail-oriented sign.  Regardless, the two will still be happy to reward those who’ve worked to improve efficiency and clarity over the past year.

The second issue with this trio of planets is that Mercury is on the verge of his next retrograde.  Though the tricky planet will not station this week, his about-face comes soon— on August 30th.

Mercury is actually set to make an unusual three conjunctions to Jupiter.  The first occurred on August 22nd, while the second is due to happen September 2nd. The third, however, is not scheduled until October 11th, after Mercury has completed September’s retrograde and Jupiter has entered Libra.  Therefore, as Mercury meets with Venus and Jupiter this weekend, it is to assess the progress we’ve attempted to make since Jupiter entered Virgo last August.  Consider what gains you’ve made, as well as those you planned on but never executed.  Mercury’s upcoming retrograde will be, among other things, the last chance to install the upgrades you’ve working on, but haven’t yet implemented, over the last year.


Just beyond this week’s burning gate lies September, full of outcomes and implications. Although the conjunctions of both the benefics and the malefics this week is certainly dramatic, there is still much to work out, and September has much to show us— a pair of eclipses, the final Saturn-Neptune square, Jupiter’s entrance into Libra and Mars’ departure from Sagittarius.




Horoscopes are not a real chart reading by an experienced astrologer. They are fun and can be reasonably accurate, however. In addition to referring to your Sun sign, read from your Ascendant and Moon if you know them. If you don’t, find out! I’m a long time fan of the free chart generation software at
Aries: The Ram

This week’s conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius is due to highlight what it will take to realize your ambitions. As you look out, you may find that at this point in time, the road looks hard, and the journey long. Yet the vantage from this week’s tough skies is only one angle. Don’t get discouraged by how things look this week, just keeping putting one foot in front of the other.
Meanwhile, the weekend hosts a menage-a-trois between Mercury, Jupiter and Venus in Virgo. This configuration highlights what progress you’ve made over the last year in improving your habits, both fiscal and physical. You may be due for rewards you’ve earned, and yet you may well see the shadow of another, final, set of edits lurking just around the next corner.

Taurus: The Bull

The conjunction of Mars and Saturn this week throws a spotlight on the exchanges of time, money and energy between yourself and others. Difficulties and disagreements in this area will shine brightly under the harsh light of this conjunction, which may not be pleasant, but it light is light, and will serve to illuminate regardless.
The weekend holds a pileup of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter at the end of Virgo. This configuration highlights the projects you’re working on, and the energy you use to nourish them. Take a look at what you’re spending your energy on, and consider whether a few changes or reallocations might be in order.

Gemini: The Twins

This week’s conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius highlights what stands between you and others. Sore spots in relationships are due to be inflamed, and you may find yourself less patient with others, generally. If you do, in fact find yourself in a contentious state, you may want to keep to yourself until the configuration passes. Although we can certainly learn from acting out interpersonal drama, the same lessons are often equally accessible in a less messy paperback format.
As the weekend approaches, Mars and Saturn will have had their fun and will cede the floor to Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. The conjoined trio places an emphasis on your living space, as well as your relationships with family. There may be some nice moments here, but with potentially complicated implications. Look to the progress you’ve made cultivating your roots over the last year, and consider what final set of improvements you might want or need to make over the next month.

Cancer: The Crab

This week’s conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius points towards your physical health. As both planets have spent much of the year giving you a hard time about your habits, this should not be news. Their conjunction is thus not a fresh message, but a check-up and a stress-test, to see if you’ve been getting the hint. If you’ve been neglecting your body, consider this conjunction an excellent time to start paying attention.
Meanwhile, the weekend sees Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all conjoin in Virgo. There, they ask you to look over your weekly schedule, as well as your relationship with your neighborhood. Strides you’ve made to improve your relationship to time and space over the last year may well be rewarded. Yet in addition to accolades for improvement, your eye will also likely be drawn to a few areas that could still use some serious rearrangement. Consider the way you’re scheduling yourself, and whether that calendar has you getting you closer to your big goals, or just struggling to keep up.

Leo: The Lion

This week’s conjunction of Mars and Saturn highlights the efficiency with which you spending your vital energy. Take a hard look at what your investments of energy have produced this year. As you look over your projects, make sure you are you nourishing children, not feeding parasites.
Meanwhile, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter conjoin in Virgo over the weekend. There they’ll have a conversation with you about your attempts to improve your financial position over the last year. Some congratulations may be in order, as well as a few further refinements. If you’ve been putting off a good accounting, the stellium in Virgo makes a fine time to sit down with the bottom lines.

Virgo: The Virgin

This week Mars and Saturn corner you to discuss what’s going on with your family and living space. You may end up working furiously on repair or improvement projects, or you may have to take a hard look at a relationship with a family member. There’s a tendency here to get irritated with your living situation, as well as kin, over little things. If you feel your temper flare or your mood darken, take the time to process your irritations before expressing them.
Meanwhile, the weekend holds a special gathering of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in the fields of your very own sign. Rewards for the growth you’ve done this year should be evident, as should that final set of changes you need to make.

Libra: The Scales

This week Mars and Saturn unite to discuss what you’ve been doing with your time. If you’ve been squandering it, the pair may start with a stern lecture. Yet sit patiently and listen, for after they berate you for your lazy ways, some excellent, if somewhat austere, time management strategies are sure to follow.
As the weekend approaches, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter all gather somewhere in the back of head, to discuss what strides you’ve made to clean and oil the creaking clockworks of your mind over the last year or so. Are there complexes you’ve succeeded in unwinding? Or perhaps you’ve managed to attain a new level of honest with yourself. These successes, though invisible, are of fundamental importance, so do yourself the favor of recognizing these subtle attainments.

Scorpio: The Scorpion

Mars and Saturn conjoin this week in order to discuss your finances. Though it may be frightening to sit down with them, the numbers are unlikely to be as bad as you might fear. If the sums are not pleasing, you may want to go in search of expenses to cut. Don’t bring the hatchet, though- start with the scalpel and see if that doesn’t do it.
Meanwhile, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all gather this weekend at the end of Virgo. There, they’ll discuss your social life, and what you’ve learned over the last year about cultivating friendships. As you reflect on your social sphere and your place within various communities, you may come across one last bit which needs to be rewired.

Sagittarius: The Centaur

This week Mars and Saturn highlight the nature of the challenges you face at this point in your life. The road and its toll both become clear. Yet looking down that path for obstacles and dangers, you may miss the more pleasant roadside attractions awaiting your arrival.
This weekend Mercury, Venus and Jupiter hold a gathering at the end of Virgo. Positive, if potentially complicated, news in your professional life awaits. Many of you archers who have labored to improve their professional world for the last year will reap the rewards over the coming weeks, though one final set of transformations may be necessary to complete the overhaul.

Capricorn: The Goat

The Mars-Saturn conjunction this week highlights your struggle this year with problems of mysterious origin. Maybe it’s been health problems without a clear cause, or perhaps an on-and-off fight with your own inner demons. Regardless, the Mars-Saturn conjunction should bring greater clarity to the issues involved, making solutions easier to see.
Meanwhile, the pile up in Virgo over the weekend highlights how your perspective has grown over the past year. Yet in addition to looking back, there is also something of the near future in this configuration, for in order to complete the process of world-expansion which has been operating in the background since Jupiter’s ingress into Virgo last August, there is one last set of changes and revisions needed. These changes, initiated this weekend, are due to develop over the next month.

Aquarius: The Waterbearer

The Mars-Saturn conjunction this week highlights the more unpleasant aspects of your social sphere. This week, you may be tempted to anger or frustration with some of the people in your small slice of the world. Do what you need to do, but don’t think that throwing gasoline on a hot mess is going to solve much.
During the weekend, the Mars-Saturn conjunction cedes ground to the similarly luminous pile up of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in Virgo. This stellium highlights what you’ve learned about working as a part of a team over the last year, as well as the intricacies of borrowing and loaning time, money and energy. Yet there’s one last set of lessons on the matter of interpersonal exchange in store, one that will take much of the next month to fully unfold.

Pisces: The Fish

This week’s Mars-Saturn conjunction focuses on professional challenges. You may be pushed a little harder and a little further than you’ve like. In addition, you may find other areas of life competing with your profession to make it all the harder to focus on what needs doing. Though there may well be some pressure, as well as a tangle or two, it’ll soon let up, so don’t kill yourself trying to accomplish absolutely everything.
Mercury, Jupiter and Venus pile up at the end of Virgo over the weekend. The benefits of the improvements you’ve made in your relationship skills over the past year are likely to be quite clear. Yet there is likely another set of upgrades to be installed, a final change to the way you reach out that will take much of the coming month to be fully integrated.

Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.

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