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  EDITOR'S CHOICE ARTICLES Feb/Mar 2000 Issue  
       
 

Drawing Down the Fire of the Gods:
Reflections on the Leo/Aquarius Axis
by Ray Grasse

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. So when I was asked if I'd distill some ideas from a current project of mine for use in an issue devoted to the Leo/Aquarius axis, I immediately thought back to one image that best seemed to capture the essence of this zodiacal dynamic: Two or three children are on a playground, laughing and singing in blissful abandon, while, circled around them, are a dozen scientists in white lab coats, carefully observing and recording every move for a research study on the nature of play.

As with all images and symbols, this one offers several levels of meaning. For that reason, this image provides a useful point of departure for exploring a few of the many themes associated with the Leo/Aquarius polarity. As I hope to make clear, understanding this vital zodiacal polarity is important not only for understanding our personal horoscopes, but also for unlocking the significance of the pivotal historical period we find ourselves about to enter - the much-heralded Age of Aquarius.

The Dance of Fire and Air

Where does one begin when trying to understand this polarity? One way is to consider the elemental symbolism associated with these signs: Leo represents the principle of fire, while Aquarius represents the principle of air.

First, let's look at fire. Of all the elements, this is the one most associated with life's vitality itself. Like our children romping on the playground, Leonine fire is the principle of pure "experientiality," of being-in-the-moment. At its most spiritual, Leo therefore exemplifies the ideals of courage, enthusiasm, and even spontaneous, enlightened awareness. The Buddhists have a saying: "Spontaneity is the mark of the Buddha." Leo embodies this spontaneous, playful awareness at its most dynamic, its fixity compressing this essence and burnishing it to a diamond-like brilliance. At its worst, this same principle can express itself as self-centeredness or an inability to stand outside one's own perspective in order to see things (or oneself) objectively.

On the other end of things, Aquarius expresses the principle of air - the element most associated with the principle of rationality, of mind. Like those scientists on the fringes of our playground, air stands outside the field of activity to best observe and conceptualize it and systematically relate it to other ideas and systems. In contrast with the fiery principle of pure being, Aquarian air represents the principle of understanding. At its highest, Aquarian air therefore confers the objectivity and the discernment necessary for effective decision-making, planning, and clear communication. But at its worst, Aquarian air can be detached to the point of coldness, standing so far outside of direct experience that it loses touch with the emotional realities of oneself and others. (The famed detachment of Aquarian former president Ronald Reagan offers a prime, though admittedly extreme, example of this.)

But how exactly do these different archetypes interact with one another? Traditional astrology informs us that fire and air are complementary and feed one another in symbiotic ways; but, as we shall soon see, the truth of the matter can often be far more complex than this.

The Individual/Group Dynamic

As individuals, how do we reconcile our own needs or behaviors with those of the group? And how harmoniously does the group impact on our personal lives? These are just a few of the concerns driving this zodiacal polarity. On the one hand, Leo stands for the principle of the reigning individual, shining before all in uniqueness. At the other end, Aquarius is the common man or woman, mingling with the masses. In political astrology, Leo is therefore associated with government by monarchy or theocracy, where power is focused in a single royal or religious figure, while Aquarius relates to democracy and government by the common man/woman. In short, Leo rules from the top down, whereas Aquarius rules from the bottom up.

Whenever this zodiacal polarity is prominently displayed in someone's horoscope, one often finds a concern with integrating personal values with those of the collective. With Leo more dominant (say, by planetary emphasis), individuals may gravitate toward positions of eminence, or being the ringleader in social undertakings; with Aquarius more emphasized, the individual may feel a greater attunement with the group, the masses.

Sometimes, the house placements involved may hold the decisive clues as to which direction this will take for an individual. For instance, one client I met had multiple planets in Leo positioned in the 1st house, opposing Aquarius planets in the 7th. Throughout her life, she found fulfillment as a charismatic, motivational speaker standing before thousands of people. With her heavy Leo/1st house, she enjoyed playing the role of star to the hilt. Yet another client of mine had virtually the same planets in the same signs, except positioned in precisely opposite houses (Leo on the 7th, Aquarius on the 1st). For her, this polarity manifested as the compulsion to attend workshops led by charismatic figures and to identify with the masses rather than take on the starring role.

On the global scale, planetary configurations between these signs often accompany historical events that dramatize the group/individual dynamic en masse. When Leo is dominant over Aquarius, for example, we might see events that highlight the ability of lone rulers or nations to affect larger collectives - constructively or destructively. As one case in point, the controversial eclipse last August featured a powerful Sun-Moon conjunction in Leo, opposing planets in Aquarius - Leo dominant over Aquarius, in other words. On the exact day of the Full Moon after the eclipse (one of several trigger mechanisms for eclipse effects), Chicago's O'Hare airport, one of the world's largest, was essentially shut down for hours because of a lone individual having bolted the wrong way through a security checkpoint. As one TV commentator remarked later that evening, "This incident illustrates how one individual can disrupt the entire system."

On the other hand, a good example of how the collective can impact the life of a single individual or leader is the Gulf War of 1991. The most significant outer-planet aspect to occur during this conflict was Saturn in Aquarius opposite Jupiter in Leo. (The war itself lasted from mid January to early April; the Jupiter-Saturn opposition was exact on March 15, 1991.) This powerful dynamic found explicit expression in the host of players involved with this conflict: George Bush and his coalition of nations (Saturn in Aquarius), who collectively set limits on the expansionist ambitions of a renegade would-be king, Saddam Hussein (Jupiter in Leo). In a stunning example of historical synchronicity, this event was paralleled by another development that erupted into public attention during the same period: the Rodney King incident, which came to light in early March. In a manner virtually identical to the United Nations' actions toward Hussein, this incident also involved a band of disciplinary figures (Los Angeles policemen) beating down on a lone "expansionist" figure, a speeding motorist by the last name of "King," no less.

With the slow rise of the Aquarian Age, we are already seeing the erosion of longstanding monarchies, and their replacement by democratic forms of government. And in many of these cases, we find powerful configurations occurring in Leo and Aquarius as well. To cite a classic example, all of the major events of the French Revolution occurred in tandem with powerful astrological aspects between Leo and Aquarius (chiefly centering around a major Uranus-Pluto opposition of the period). (1) One finds a more contemporary expression of this same trend in the increasingly aggressive behavior of the media toward royalty in recent years. A prime example of this can be seen in the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. On hearing news of her fatal accident while she was being pursued by paparazzi, I remarked to the person with me at the moment that it would be worth looking for any oppositions between Leo and Aquarius at the time of the crash (Leo ruling royalty and Aquarius ruling the news media)."In fact," I added,"it would be especially fitting if it turned out to be the Moon in Leo, since Princess Di is a symbol of female royalty." Lo and behold, on drawing up the horoscope for August 31, 1997 (12:25 a.m. CED; Paris, France), this is precisely what I found: Moon in Leo opposing planets in Aquarius.

Stardom/Privacy

Princess Diana's life and death both call attention to another expression of the Leo/Aquarius axis in our own time, that of the curious phenomenon of celebrity. As suggested earlier, Leo is the sign most commonly associated with society's "stars" - and quite fittingly, too, since it's the only sign governed by an actual star rather than a planetary body. In older times, the stars of our world generally consisted of political or religious leaders of one stripe or another. But with the advent of modern telecommunications and popular culture, we've witnessed a newfound democratization of celebrity, with the opportunity for ordinary people to rise up out of complete obscurity into positions of great fame. Theoretically, at least, anyone can become an object of worship now, and attain their own "fifteen minutes of fame," as Andy Warhol described it. Disposable deities, you might say.

But this newfound opportunity, provided by mass media and telecommunications, comes with a price. While each person now has access to the eyes and ears of the world, so the eyes and ears of the world have growing access to our personal lives - information about our spending habits through credit cards, our communications through phone records and Internet messages, and even our actions in public places via surveillance cameras and spy satellites. Movies like Enemy of the State or The Truman Show dramatize this growing predicament. But, we hardly need turn to works of fiction to find striking examples of this growing problem - consider the strange case of Monica Lewinsky.

Besides illustrating how a total unknown could skyrocket into worldwide attention, the Monica Lewinsky scandal dramatized how the most personal details of someone's private life could be paraded before the entire world - stained dresses, cigars, and all. It is well known that both Clinton and Lewinsky are Leos and even share surprisingly similar horoscopic patterns; what is less well known is how closely this incident played itself out in relation to aspects firing in Aquarius throughout the year of the scandal. Specifically, the scandal first erupted into public attention on the very day a stellium in Aquarius kicked into high gear as a result of an exact Mars-Jupiter conjunction (in Aquarius) on January 20, 1998. And, like clockwork, the scandal came to its welcome conclusion one year later with the next major configuration to occur in Aquarius, the solar eclipse of February 1999. So, here we find the Leo/Aquarius polarity at work as well, though in terms of an opposition between global aspects and personal planets. In a sense, the travails experienced by Princess Di, Lewinsky, and Clinton simply dramatize the challenge we are all facing now, to a greater or lesser extent, as personal life increasingly becomes entwined with that of the collective.

Creativity

Another key concern of the Leo/Aquarius axis centers around the expression of creativity in our lives. At the one end, Leo expresses the notion of personalized creativity - the lone artist painting in his loft, or the musician composing at her piano, for instance. On the other hand, Aquarius governs all forms of group creativity, where individuals band together to merge their creative energies toward a single project. A modern example of this would be an average film production, where one might find literally hundreds of individuals pooling their energies toward creating one movie.

In actual practice, of course, the notion of "group creativity" can be a notoriously double-edged sword. At its best, it gives us ensemble work of the most brilliant type, as with films like Citizen Kane or The Godfather, or popular musical groups like the Beatles. To my mind, the modern symbol that best captures the essence of Aquarian group creativity at its most integrated is that uniquely American art form, jazz. In contrast to Piscean-Age art forms like the Gregorian choir, where individual creativity is largely surrendered to a higher ideal, the jazz band encourages group cooperation without denying individual creativity on the part of each member. There is still a thematic structure to be followed, yet it is loose enough to allow for personal freedom of expression - a description, incidentally, that applies just as well to the political structure of the United States. On a technological level, Aquarian Thomas Edison pioneered a jazz-type approach to innovation with the unique workshop environment he developed, which saw an entire team of thinkers pooling their efforts toward conceiving new inventions.

At its worst, the notion of group creativity calls up images of faceless bureaucracies, or "beehive" societies, where individual creativity is essentially squashed by the collective machinery. One doesn't have to look far to find examples from our own time of the way creativity has become constrained by corporations and the "vested interests of the stockholders." Nowadays, independent artists find themselves faced with the Faustian bargain of compromising their visions to become successful by having to contend with virtual armies of marketing consultants, corporate bureaucrats, and test audiences to get their work out into the marketplace.

But as bleak a scenario as this may seem to some, there is nonetheless reason for hope. For while there isn't much doubt the world has become more "corporatized," we still manage to see impressive works of art surfacing out of "the system" somehow, with great books, films, and musical works continuing to appear in the marketplace in recent years. The Internet has also introduced a new wrinkle by allowing independent artists to use modern telecommunications technology to display their works before a worldwide audience, thus bypassing the restrictions of the corporate distribution process. But even within that corporate framework itself, the "jazz" approach has been having an increasing influence on the managerial styles of many businesses these days, with lower- and middle-level employees given greater input in running their companies, for instance. One could also point out the proliferation of numerous "think-tanks" and creative groups taking place these days in such diverse fields as religion, politics, and science, with potential long-term results that could transform our lives in yet-unforeseen ways. So, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of modern creativity may indeed be greatly exaggerated!

Pleasure

A close cousin to creativity on our chain of correspondences is the notion of pleasure, with each end of the Leo/Aquarius polarity approaching this area in its own unique way. For instance, Leo governs pleasures of a more personal sort, as with adults having a romantic affair, or the children romping on our proverbial playground. By contrast, Aquarius governs group pleasures involving many individuals at once, as we might see at a theme park like Disneyland or Universal Studios. In these environments, groups of individuals come together and take a virtual ride into outer space, or venture down simulated jungle rapids and thrill at the sight of electronic dinosaurs rushing out at them. But perhaps the most obvious form of Aquarian pleasure in our time is that of mass entertainment as expressed through such things as TV shows, films, or radio broadcasts. With a TV show, for instance, it’s possible now for billions of people around the world to enjoy the same show at the same moment.

Examples like this point up several other key elements of the Aquarian approach to pleasure, such as its more technological emphasis, which would also include video games, virtual reality devices, and even Internet chat rooms. And they illustrate the more cerebral quality we often find with Aquarian pleasures as well. For an extreme example, just imagine an Internet party of astrophysicists swapping jokes about the Grand Unified Theory! In contrast with the immediacy of Leonine play, Aquarian entertainment inherently involves an element of detachment that is somehow removed from the center of experience. Not unlike our scientists standing outside the playground looking in, an average TV viewer, for instance, experiences the action vicariously and indirectly, more a spectator than a player. And notice the impersonality implied here as well: With an ordinary television show, you can have literally millions of viewers sitting around at the same moment, watching the same event - yet all of them are completely separate from one another. So, it may well be that the Aquarian Age will usher in a time when we all "come together as one" - though this could take a somewhat more technological turn than many now expect.

Chance

In traditional astrology, gambling is said to fall under the rulership of the 5th house in the chart (the house naturally associated with Leo); (2) and, to my mind, this has always concealed a deep esoteric truth. Why? Because in addition to being a form of play or pleasure, gambling - like most of the other areas we’ve been exploring thus far - involves a certain element of chance, of randomness. For whether we talk about romance, creativity, conception, or childbirth, we are, in every case, witnessing something essentially spontaneous and unpredictable in nature. Conceiving or giving birth to a child, for instance, is one of life's greatest crapshoots, not only in terms of whether pregnancy will occur but also in terms of the kind of child one will bring into the world.

Correspondences like these open a window onto a deeper truth underlying both Leo and the 5th house, in that the spontaneity expressed in all these areas may be seen as reflecting the free-flowing qualities of Spirit itself, that innermost fount of consciousness where energy unfolds openly and intuitively, unfettered by logic and calculation. In moments of play or creativity, we tap into this divine, creative source of being, something even reflected in our use of the term re-creation when describing ordinary pastimes. Gambling likewise stems from this same divine impulse, but for more distorted and self-aggrandizing reasons.

So how does this principle of spontaneity or chance manifest when filtered through the opposite sign of Aquarius? For one, it gives rise to mass games of chance, not to mention technological and corporate-run forms of chance. In stark contrast with the more traditional scene of a few individuals standing around throwing dice into the dirt, the emerging Great Age has already introduced bustling amphitheaters that accommodate thousands of individuals playing electronic slot machines side by side. The house of worship for many these days has become such a modern-day shrine to chance as a casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, where an entirely new set of gods is invoked in the hope of altering one’s fate. Our earlier example of the jazz band might even be cited as an expression of the Aquarian approach to chance, since it is based on the concept of group improvisation, a creative form founded on one's response to the unpredictabilities of each moment.

Environments like Disneyland or Las Vegas also express a distinctively Aquarian approach to chance in their shared concern with controlling the unpredictable. At an amusement park like Disneyland, for example, engineers and planners take activities that traditionally involved huge elements of risk and bring them under tight supervision, to best provide one with all the thrills and vicarious enjoyments of chance-laden experiences - though without all the messy randomness and unpredictability. Rather than actually risk one’s life going out on a big-game safari, one can now experience a simulated version of the same thing, all from the safety of an electronically guided car. (Ironic, is it not, how Disneyland and Las Vegas started out at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, only to eventually become indistinguishable from one another!)

And, while childbirth has always been one of life's more unpredictable activities, scientists are learning how to reduce the element of chance here as well, with new advances in fertilization and genetic engineering. The striking film, Gattaca, features a scene that beautifully illustrates this dilemma: Set at an unspecified point in our future, a couple comes into a fertility clinic to consult with a corporate counselor on planning out the features of their next child. The counselor tries to convince them to go all the way and pick out every characteristic of the future child - but they are resistant, wondering if it wouldn’t be nice to leave just a little bit to chance, to randomness. The counselor persists, perplexed as to why anyone would even want to leave any part of the conception process to chance. In much the same way, the Aquarian society of our future may be one where, for better or worse, we attempt to control as many elements of randomness and unpredictability in our world as possible - in short, to harness chance.

This same archetypal polarity may also underlie efforts by modern scientists to unlock the laws of chance in all their shapes and forms. Entire disciplines have sprung up during this last century, attempting to uncover the hidden order beneath life's apparent randomness. These disciplines include statistical analysis, systems theory, Quantum Physics with its notions of "probability," the revolutionary new science of "Chaos (complexity) theory" and even the emerging field of synchronicity studies. Consider the science of Chaos, for example. Researchers contend that by carefully observing the complex behaviors of phenomena previously thought to be purely random (say, the behavior of motorists on a freeway or gas molecules moving about a room), it is possible to discern the hidden laws that govern these patterns.

In personal horoscopes, significant aspects involving the signs Leo and Aquarius sometimes indicate an effort to balance personal spontaneity with the restrictions of social convention. In their constructive form, of course, our collective behavioral codes serve to channel or even restrain the wilder expressions of our fiery impulses - the result being a little something we call civilization. Yet, as we all know, those same codes can easily become a strait jacket that suffocates life’s vitality itself. Generally seen as a politically-minded screwball comedy, Warren Beatty's audacious film, Bulworth, may also be viewed as a brilliant commentary on the dichotomy between spontaneous living (Leo/fire) and the rigidities of societal convention (Aquarius in its more Saturnine aspect). The story centers around a disillusioned senator who, having become a cog in the political machine, is forced, following an unlikely chain of circumstances, to break free of his socially-prescribed role and live life in a completely spontaneous manner, communicating now through improvised rap songs. Beatty (himself a fire sign) underscores this subtext with the pivotal line he assigns the recurring figure of the black street-person - a veritable clarion call to the slumbering fire principle in all of us: "You gotta be a spirit, you can't be no ghost!"

Because of the self/other dynamic inherent in all oppositions, this particular dichotomy, like all those we’ve examined thus far, may act itself out through the people around one, in terms of others mirroring back one or the other extreme of this polarity. For example, individuals with a prominent Leo/Aquarius may themselves be largely spontaneous, while their spouses or business partners are heavily rational and detached in temperament - or vice versa.

The One and the Many

Another metaphor that can be helpful in explaining the distinction between Leo and Aquarius derives from the field of medical astrology. Traditionally, Leo is associated with the heart, while Aquarius is often associated with the distribution of the blood through the body via the arteries. Viewed symbolically, this biological correspondence holds an important clue to the archetypal processes underlying these two signs. Simply put, Leo is the principle of centralization, while Aquarius is the principle of decentralization.

This dynamic helps explain several of the areas we have been looking at thus far. For instance, when we say that Leo rules government by monarchy, we understand it is because monarchy centralizes the power of the nation into a single king or queen, who is analogously the "heart" of a country; by contrast, democracy decentralizes power to the furthermost "branches" of society, i.e., ordinary men and women. Whereas Leo is the principle of the One, Aquarius is therefore the principle of the Many. Or think of this visual analogy: Leo may be compared with pure white light, while Aquarius could be compared to the prismatic breaking up of light into multiple colors, into a spectrum. Hence, while Leo is more monolithic in focus, Aquarius has a more kaleidoscopic agenda, with its greater emphasis on diversity.

In light of such correspondences, it is not hard to understand why Aquarius is symbolically linked to systems, networks, and associations of all kinds. On the global scale, this could suggest that the next Great Age will be a time of complex alliances and networks of many different kinds, political, social, or technological - systems within systems within systems. We can even see the multi-perspective qualities of Aquarius in such modern developments as postmodernism, with its splintering of traditional Truth into multiple truths and world views - but that's another article altogether.

When unity-minded Leo is added to the Aquarian mix, we find a concern with creative networking in some way, or with unifying diverse elements into overarching networks. Examples of this on the collective scale would be organizations like Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow Coalition" or the United Nations, where we see diverse peoples or races joined together in their common interests. On the level of personal horoscopes, this axis is often emphasized in the charts of thinkers or philosophers with a capacity for synthesizing diverse ideas and intellectual systems within unifying paradigms. Examples of this would be Carl Jung (July 26, 1875), H.P. Blavatsky (August 12, 1831), and the founder of psychosynthesis, Roberto Assagioli (February 27, 1888), all of whom suggested new ways of synthesizing or reframing traditional ideas. A more recent example would be transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber (January 31, 1949), whose horoscope features a prominent link between these two signs. Over the last two decades, Wilber has been involved with synthesizing diverse systems into unifying frameworks of various types. (Fittingly, perhaps, the title of his first published book was The Spectrum of Consciousness.)

Leo and Aquarius in the Chakra System

I believe it's possible to uncover a still deeper level of meaning within this zodiacal polarity, by considering where it falls within the context of the yogic chakra system. As I've discussed in previous articles and books, (3) many esotericists, both East and West, have proposed a close relationship between astrological symbols and the psycho-spiritual system of the chakras. According to this set of correspondences, Leo is associated with the point of the"third eye" (Ajna chakra), while Aquarius relates to one side of the lowest"root" chakra (Muladhara).

Correspondences like these reveal new insights into the host of associations we've been examining throughout this discussion. With Leo, for instance, traditional associations like creativity, pleasure, spontaneity, or even centralization all take on added resonance as echoes of that spiritual center at the level of the forehead, commonly described as the seat of creative, visionary consciousness. On the other hand, the scientific detachment of Aquarius assumes new meaning when viewed in relation to the root (Saturn) chakra, the point of the chakric ladder farthest away from the third eye. Like our scientists on the outside of the playground looking in, consciousness at this level is likewise"outside looking in" relative to the "playground" of pure being concentrated in the Ajna chakra. (Remember,"upper" or "lower" in the chakric hierarchy does not mean "better" or "worse" in any absolute sense, since each chakric level has its own "spiritual" or "unspiritual" modes of expression.)

Power, Will, and the Promethean Axis

Also consider the closeness of this zodiacal axis to the central spinal column, regarded by yogis as the domain of sushumna, the pathway of kundalini energy. While it wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that Leo/Aquarius is identical to kundalini (Leo/Aquarius being masculine and forceful in quality, therefore more akin to what the yogis refer to as the “right hand” channel of pingali), it arguably comes closer than any other polarity within the entire zodiac. As anyone who has studied charts for any time knows, the Leo/Aquarius axis (and its corollary planetary aspects, Sun conjunct/opposed Uranus) taps into something quite profound within our being, something closely related to consciousness itself at its most dynamic and luminous (4) (Perhaps this resonance with kundalini even explains why images of laser beams or"light sabers" have come to hold such power for movie audiences these days, as we careen toward the next Great Age!)

As this polarity expresses itself through the Aquarian end, we often find a hidden urge with this sign to take"higher" energies and apply them to everyday situations, as in the case of an inventor. One modern technology sometimes associated with the Leo/Aquarius polarity is that of solar power, and, to my mind, this offers a useful symbol for understanding the archetypal dynamics underlying this polarity. In the same way that solar power technology "draws down" energy from the Sun for use in everyday life, so Aquarius may be said to "draw down" energy from the Ajna chakra into the realm of physical-plane concerns. For this reason, we might call the Leo/Aquarius polarity the "Promethean axis" - Prometheus being the mythological figure who carried fire down from Mt. Olympus to humanity. (5)

As we shift into the Aquarian Age, we see numerous ways in which"fire" is already being "drawn down from the mountain top" into daily affairs: politically, through democracy; monetarily, through a capitalistic system that shifts wealth from a ruling elite into the hands of ordinary entrepreneurs; technologically, through electricity, which makes the once awesome power of lightning available through small holes in the walls of our homes, or through atomic power, which literally reproduces the powers of the Sun for human use; in the workplace, through unionization; and intellectually, through the democratization of knowledge made possible through books, magazines, and the Internet. In recent centuries, we've even seen renewed interest in the Prometheus myth itself, as with the writings of Percy Shelley (Prometheus Unbound), or his wife's famed novel, Frankenstein (originally subtitled The Modern Prometheus), which continues to captivate audiences with each new generation.

Yet, as Mary Shelley's story of Dr. Frankenstein also shows, great power is accompanied by great responsibilities as well as great dangers. The Leo/Aquarius axis may well be called the "third rail" of the zodiac, since tapping into it can be an electrifying, even lethal experience. Classical mythology offers numerous warnings about the problems of unwisely acquired powers, a message reiterated in modern times through the tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, popularized in Walt Disney's film, Fantasia. (And what about all the water-bearer imagery throughout that animated tale?) Over the last century, we've witnessed countless examples of what happens when power is wielded without the counterbalancing forces of feminine compassion or reflectivity. The ability of a commoner like Hitler to rise from the lowest ranks of society into a position of global power is but one testament to the perils of "playing with fire" politically and psychologically. Hiroshima and Chernobyl offer equally dramatic examples of this danger on the technological and scientific levels.

In terms of what this axis indicates within personal charts, one could, of course, talk about the alternately tyrannical/subversive streak that sometimes accompanies this polarity - and that wouldn't be entirely wrong. The problem is that it's but one piece of a much larger puzzle; so, when consulting with clients, it is always important to note the considerable positive potentials contained in this axis as well - creatively, socially, intellectually, and, as we are about to see, spiritually.

The Mystery of the Sphinx

The metaphor of solar power provides us with one last insight into Leo/Aquarius experience, that involving its unique relationship to the area of mysticism. Just as solar power draws down the fires of the Sun into everyday use, Leo/Aquarius concerns the drawing down of "spiritual fire" from the higher realms into a more personalized context, through a more individualized approach to religion. In pre-scientific cultures, for instance, "Divinity" was viewed in largely Leonine terms as residing in certain select individuals like the King, Pope, or some God utterly beyond ourselves. But with the advancing Aquarian mythos, we are seeing the democratization of divinity, where Spirit is recognized to reside with each man, each woman.

In personal horoscopes, the joining of Leo/Aquarius may indicate an urge to blend the rational with the spiritual. When Aquarius is more dominant, there may be a more intellectual, scientific approach to spirituality, while, with Leo more dominant, the individual may try to bring intellect into the service of spirituality and religion. The interaction of these two signs can signal a considerable interest in"personal empowerment" on either mystical or psychological levels. The chart of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey (January 29, 1954) features a powerful configuration between Aquarius and Leo, for instance.

At its most sublime, the harmonizing of Leo and Aquarius expresses a truth that seems to hold special relevance for men and women of our time: the reconciliation of the divine and the human, the sacred and the ordinary. At the outset of this article, I proposed one image to convey some of the qualities of this zodiacal dynamic; in closing, I would suggest another, very different symbol to express the perfect integration of these polar opposites: the Egyptian sphinx. Within this timeless image, we see the merging of the lion and the human bodies into one. However the Egyptians themselves may have intended this symbol (and there isn't complete agreement even among Egyptologists on this point), it's likely that the growing interest we’ve seen in this archeological wonder during recent years stems directly from its archetypal numinosity as an emblem for our emerging spiritual potentials.(6) Nearly a century ago, poet William Butler Yeats anticipated the importance of this symbol for humanity's future, when he penned these lines in his poem heralding the Aquarian Age,"The Second Coming": (7)
Surely some revelation is at hand;Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man ....

© 1999 Ray Grasse - all rights reserved

References and Notes
1. There is some controversy over whether it is appropriate to relate configurations taking place in tropical Aquarius with the essentially sidereal Aquarian Age, since these have become increasingly dislocated from one another through time, due to the "sliding zodiac" problem. Having considered this matter for far too many years now, it is my own belief that there is always a symbolic resonance between the tropical and sidereal versions of any given sign, even when widely separated from one another. However, this connection is undoubtedly strongest when the two signs in question are exactly synchronized (as was the case roughly 2,000 years ago).

2. By house rulership, gambling is conventionally associated with the 5th house, while, by planet, it is associated with Jupiter. My own sense of this distinction is that while both of these significators can be related to matters of chance or spontaneity, Jupiter more emphatically expresses elements of risk-taking and"luck" (good or bad!) than either the 5th house or Leo, by themselves.

3. For an introductory look at the chakric/horoscopic connection, see my previous article, "Astrology and the Chakras: Toward a Sacred Psychology of the Horoscope," The Mountain Astrologer, April 1996. For a more in-depth exploration of the implications of this model in practical chart interpretation, see my chapter in the anthology, Eastern Systems for Western Astrologers, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1997. For a look at the more philosophical implications of this model, see my book, The Waking Dream, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1996.

4. The entire fixed axis (Leo/Aquarius/Taurus/Scorpio) is closely associated with the notion of consciousness and psycho-spiritual"power," but with certain distinctions between the dual polarities involved. The Leo/Aquarius axis expresses a more masculine, outwardly forceful aspect of consciousness, while the Taurus/Scorpio axis expresses a more feminine and feeling-centered aspect of spiritual power. Within the context of the chakras, this distinction can be viewed in the way Leo/Aquarius is more aligned with the vertical path of the spine, while Taurus/Scorpio extends out horizontally toward the secondary channels of ida and pingali - the domain of shakti, or cosmic feminine energy.

5. My use of the Prometheus story in describing the Leo/Aquarius axis is, in part, inspired by Richard Tarnas's insightful writings on Prometheus and the planet Uranus, though applied here in a zodiacal context. Tarnas's views can be found in his book, Prometheus the Awakener: An Essay on the Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus, Woodstock, CT: Spring Publications, 1995.

6. There have been numerous efforts in recent years to determine whether undiscovered chambers may still lie beneath (or around) the Sphinx, most of these inspired by Edgar Cayce's prediction about a great"Hall of Records" coming to light at the end of the 20th century. Whether or not any such records exist at this point beneath the Sphinx, there is good reason to believe that important findings of some sort await us in this area. Should any of these prove to be revolutionary in significance, it's safe to say their discovery would constitute important milestones in the unfolding Aquarian mythos, and should be carefully examined in terms of their astrological timing.

7. Willam Butler Yeats,"The Second Coming," The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.

Ray Grasse is Associate Editor of The Mountain Astrologer, and author of The Waking Dream (Quest, 1996), a study in synchronicity and symbolism. This article has been adapted from material contained in a forthcoming book by Ray Grasse on the Aquarian Age. For ten years, Ray worked on the editorial staffs of Quest Books and The Quest Magazine. He maintains an active astrological practice with clients around the country, and can be contacted at (630) 933-8519, or jupiter@enteract.com

 

 
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