Horoscopes Aug. 21–27, 2011

Cancer tackles the big issues, Capricorn goes back to school, and Pisces unplugs.

BORN THIS WEEKElvis Costello (Aug. 25, 1954)

Virgo is the Everyman of the Zodiac, drawing on the archetypes of Prometheus and Hephaestus, deities in service to mankind. The sign’s motto is “I serve,” humility being Virgo’s superpower. Hephaestus was made lame by father Zeus and cuckolded by wife Aphrodite, but he channeled disability and dejection into making tools for humanity. He was a potter, befitting this mutable-earth sign. Elvis’ signature image is Hephaestean: bemused, with buckled knees, as he sings of disenfranchisement and unrequited love.


Hold firm to principles, especially when negotiating joint financial deals or partnerships. Though you’re not the best compromiser on the astrological block, you can actually concede too much now, due to Mars squaring Saturn while trining Jupiter. You’re quick to label newcomers rivals, but such characters might morph into lifelong allies. So reserve judgments. Mercury is out of retrograde, Friday, but not before rearranging your brain molecules on the subject of creative dreams versus your daily grind. You may need to let go of a pursuit that just won’t work, to make room in your routine for one that will.


For a sign that boasts the fewest time-keepers, you now operate like a Swiss watch. With Venus in Virgo you personify the beauty of precision, hitting your marks and fulfilling obligations as if your schedule were a well-choreographed dance. With Martha Graham overtones: You’re stretching into uncharted professional territory, embracing innovative methods and new ideas or technology. Let Jupiter in Taurus fuel your optimism, in every sense of the word: Keep a positive attitude and be abundance conscious. This is no time to skimp or short-change yourself. Give yourself all requisite props to hasten future goals.


This isn’t just a whirlwind social time. It’s cosmically designed to inspire new ways of interracting with others. Mercury’s retrograde has made relations with family too close for comfort, while increasing your xenophobia. But by the time Mercury goes direct, Friday, you yearn for detachment from intimates, and learn to soften personal boundaries in acquaintanceships. As a result, your world will feel less small. You literally breathe easier. Fear of strangers is finally leaving you and a healthy terror of family sets in, breaking ties that unduly bind, freeing you to better manuever in the world-at-large.


You’re a soft-shell Crab now. Stripped of go-to emotional comforts—codependents, agony Aunts, metaphoric anaesthetics—you are tackling big issues on your own, building real armor in the process. Jupiter trining Mars in Cancer brings a professional opportunity that necessitates big change in your personal life. You’re afraid. A career move isn’t cut and dry. It involves family or close personal relationships that you fear to endanger. By Friday, the Moon is in your sign and Mercury goes direct. This makes it startlingly evident that others are looking out for number one, giving you license to do likewise.


Sweet surrender. With Mercury making an about-face in Leo, Friday, you’re letting go of trying to make situations work. Others may view this as abandoning what you supposedly held dear. But not so much. Now is a lesson in authenticity. And it might seem harsh to onlookers, but you can’t pretend to abide circumstances you’re not really feeling. Venus and the Sun opposing Neptune and Chiron is a call to financial action. Golden gooses haven’t materialized, or dematerialized. So you must get ducks in a row, paying down debt or cutting speculative losses. Unencumbered, life is less fraught, simpler, as you like it.

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Emotions are momentous, events portentous. At times like these you must be careful not to brim over with elation-into-crashing-despair. Venus in Virgo helps soothe nerves and elevate self-esteem—ah, but just enough. Neptune opposing the Sun and Venus is like a siren’s call, beckoning you to escape the complexities of your inner life. Still your mind. The answers, and solace, are within, not without, you. Seizmic shifts in your psyche are occuring for the better. You are coming into successes, out of the shadows of siblings and other rivals. Mercury direct, on Friday, aligns personal intentions with divine providence.


With Saturn in Libra, squaring Mars, you must be vigilantly disciplined, while focusing less on results. Now is about enjoying the process of realizing personal bests. Venus is like an angel on your shoulder, preempting any rash moves. She suffuses you with diplomacy. In fact, you can have a bit of fun attempting the seemingly impossible—turning sworn enemies into allies, greedy gusses into models of generosity, and the high and mighty into humble, happy servants. Mercury direct, Friday, invites global interest in your most localized endeavors. Hope is the mother of eleventh-hour interventions.


This week isn’t short on excitement—labeling it drama is entirely up to you. With Mercury in the final throes of retrograde, your professional profile or public image may take a few hits, and you may worry that your glory days are behind you. They’re not. Still, it’s healthy for you to ponder this. By Wednesday, Pluto, Jupiter and Venus form a grand trine, eradicating fear, and freeing you to operate on faith—you recall a time when you lived on an exclusive diet of the stuff, which reignites a fire in your belly. After a retreat, you rise phoenix-like by Saturday, daring to excede expectations, even your own.


You’ll go out on any number of limbs now, shot through with enthusiasm and a burning desire to see your biggest ideas connect with the masses. With Saturn squaring Mars, change is the only constant: There are major rejigs happening within a large group or organization, where you must stick to a progressive agenda, disallowing backsliders to maintain the status quo. The Sun entering Virgo, on Tuesday, sees you hailed as a savior of sorts on the career front. Roll up your sleeves to work as part of a team. It’s not just great for morale; it allows you to diagnose and root out dysfunction, from the ground up.


There is a sense of laughing through tears, as you transition from one clearly defined epoch to another. Pluto in Capricorn is forming a grand trine with Venus and Jupiter, two planets of good fortune. That back-to-school feeling pervades, as you embrace new programs and schedules, not to mention refreshen your wardrobe and personal effects. Truth is, you’re now graduating from a life of prepartion to one of mastery, accepting the fact you are fully accomplished in a number of arenas. By Friday, when Mercury goes direct, you’re in total command of lifelong lessons learned with witty wisdom to impart.


Time magically expands in the face of looming deadlines. Don’t waste the grace—get your nose to that grindstone. Neptune opposing the Sun and Venus allows you to channel imaginative ideas directly into being, if not usher them right into the zeitgeist. Don’t rely on old tricks or “winging it.” Perspiration is a crucial ingredient, but even a dab of it will do you proud. Escaping into a social swirl is ill advised. Although an Aquarian typically feeds off the energy of having any number of acquaintances lolling about, you’re better off sequestering yourself. Mercury direct Friday reverses deterioration in relationships.


Now is about Pisces unplugging. Many of you will take a holiday; others find relief in the fact that colleagues have vacated. In this time of solitude and reflection, a Sun-Chiron opposition can have an increased healing effect, particularly on your emotional reflexes. Take stock of ways you’ve overreacted to recent circumstance. Combined feelings of embarrassment, sadness and regret for being on so precarious a hair trigger may surface. Let them. They will guide you in determining whether you’ve put yourself in situations that are beneath you or that you’ve come to the specious conclusion that all situations are.