Leo

Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac, is a fixed fire sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, and is ruled by the Sun. Its symbol is the lion, and its glyph is said to be a modified version of the initial letter of its Greek name (although this is not universally accepted). It takes its name from the Latin word for lion. Leo is associated with the back and, especially, the heart, and individuals with a Leo sun sign are prone to heart and back problems. The association of Leo with the heart is the astrological background for the common term "lionhearted." The key phrase for Leo is "I will."

Like many of the other signs of the zodiac, Leo lacks a developed mythology. It is said to be the Nemean lion slain by Hercules and placed as a constellation in the heavens by Zeus to commemorate the event. Turning to lion symbolism more broadly, the lion is often regarded as the king of beasts, known more for its kindness and mercy than its ferocity. Aesop's fables include a number of lion tales, such as The Lion and the Mouse, in which the merciful King of Beasts releases the mouse, who later nibbles through the lion's bonds to rescue him; The Lion in Love, in which the lion allows himself to be declawed and detoothed in order to be allowed to marry a woodsman's daughter, only to be driven away after he has rendered himself powerless; and The Lion's Share, in which the King of Beasts invites other beasts to hunt with him, but then keeps all of the spoils (moral: Many may share in the labors but not in the spoils).

The constellation Leo from Poeticon Astronomicon, c. 1497. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.

Like the lions and kings of mythology (the sign is associated with royalty), Leos can embody some of the best as well as some of the worst of human traits. On the positive side, they can be brave and noble to a fault. Associated with the heart, they can give everything for love. On the other hand, they can be ferocious and brutal. Leos have big egos, but these egos are peculiarly sensitive: Whereas ego signs like Scorpio neither need nor seek compliments, Leos require constant acknowledgment. In a group, they often seek to be the center of attention. The need for acknowledgment by others is so great that, like the lion of The Lion's Share, they can take credit for the labors of others. Like all fire signs, they are fond of physical and social activity.

The sign that the Sun was in at birth is usually the single most important influence on a native's personality. Thus, when people say they are a certain sign, they are almost always referring to their sun sign. There is a wealth of information available on the characteristics of the zodiacal signs—so much that one book would not be able to contain it all. Sun-sign astrology, which is the kind of astrology found in newspaper columns and popular magazines, has the advantage of simplicity. But this simplicity is purchased at the price of ignoring other astrological influences, such as one's Moon sign, rising sign, etc. These other influences can substantially modify a person's basic sun-sign traits. As a consequence, it is the rare individual who is completely typical of her or his sign. The reader should bear this caveat in mind when perusing the following series of sun-sign interpretations.

One traditional way in which astrologers condense information is by summarizing sign and planet traits in lists of words and short phrases called keywords or key phrases. The following Leo keywords are drawn from Manly P. Hall's Astrological Keywords:

Emotional keywords: "Faithful, rich in emotional life, affectionate, idealistic, proud, sympathetic, merciful, chivalrous, domestic, excitable, foreseeing, vain, subject to illusions."

Mental keywords: "Commanding, generous, ambitious, self-sacrificing, optimistic, fixed in opinion yet magnanimous, opposed to secrecy, oblivious to enmity, challenging, bold, domineering, autocratic."

At present, there are various astrology report programs that contain interpretations of each of the 12 sun signs. A selection of these for Sun in Leo has been excerpted below:

More than a bit of a showoff, you love to be the center of attention. But others do not usually mind because they tend to enjoy your genuine warmth and affection. Very spirited and willful, proud and self-important at times, you demand your own way. You are quite honest, however, and the respect of others is very important to you. You never compromise yourself and you pursue your goals with persistence and dedication. Your regal presence and demeanor draw you to positions of leadership and authority. But beware of being overly hardheaded, domineering, ostentatious or patronizing or you will lose the goodwill and admiration that you enjoy. Very theatrical, you live life on a grand scale wherever and whenever possible. Your strength and energy vitalizes those who come in contact with you. (From "Professional Natal Report." Courtesy of Astrolabe [http://www.alabe.com].)

Proud and intensely individual, you really want to stand out, to be the very best you can be, and to be recognized and appreciated for your unique contributions. Doing something well and being respected for it is extremely important to you, and you cannot tolerate being in the background, taking orders from others, or being "just one of the team." You must put your personal stamp on whatever you do, and direct your own course in life. You need to have a place where you can shine, express yourself creatively, and be the one in charge.

You have big dreams and the determination, spirit, vitality, and enthusiasm to bring them into being. You also have a noble, romantic heart, and a love of the dramatic, colorful, and extravagant.

For you it is true that "all the world's a stage" and you secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) desire to be the Star or Hero in the play. You want to be great, and to receive the love and applause of an adoring audience, even if the "audience" is just one other special person. You need someone to believe in you and your dreams. Though you appear radiantly self-confident and independent, you are actually very much dependent on the affirmation, love, and recognition of others. You cannot bear being unnoticed or unappreciated.

You also love wholeheartedly and generously and really know how to make the person you love feel special. You love the magic of "being in love" and know how to keep the romance alive in your relationships. You are also immensely loyal and will defend your loved ones and stand by them to the end—as long as they never offend your pride or betray your trust. However, you like to be the strong one in a relationship and you really do not share the leading role very easily. Ideally you need to find a person who is as strong-willed as yourself, but who will not try to dominate or compete with you.

Your strengths are your zest and love for life, your creative power, and your warm and generous heart. Your primary fault is your tendency to be very egocentric, so concerned with the impression you are making and with your own creative self-expression that you forget there is another, larger world that does not revolve around you. (From "Merlin," by Gina Ronco and Agnes Nightingale. Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [http://cosmic.patterns.com].)

When we hear "Lion," we think "fierce." But that's misleading. Go to the zoo and have a look at the "King of the Beasts." He's lying there, one eye open, looking regal. He knows he's the king. He doesn't need to make a fuss about it. The lion, like Leo at its best, radiates quiet confidence. A happy, creative, comfortable participation in the human family—that's what Leo the Lion is all about.

The evolutionary method is deceptively simple: creative self-expression. As we offer evidence of our internal processes to the world, we feel more at home, more accepted, more spontaneous—provided the world claps its hands for us! That's the catch. Leo needs an appreciative audience. That audience can be a thousand people cheering or one person saying "I love you." Either way, it's applause, and for the Lion, that's evolutionary rocket fuel.

Toughing it out, not letting oneself be affected by a lack of support or understanding, may well be an important spiritual lesson—but not for Leo. Here the evolutionary problem comes down to lack of real, ultimate trust in other people. The cure isn't toughness; it's building a pattern of joyful give-and-take. So perform! And if no one claps, go somewhere else and perform again.

With your Sun in Leo, you are naturally creative. Your task is to express that side of your character vigorously and confidently—and to make sure that what you offer is appreciated. What is the best truth you know? What's holy and pure in your life, worth living for? That's your gift. Dramatize it. Package it somehow. And perform! You may be drawn to the arts. But just as possibly, you might express your creativity in a business, or in some public service.

Beneath the colorful surface of your character, there is an insecurity. Hardly anyone sees it. It's the fundamental spiritual problem you've come into this life to work out. Your "yoga" lies in tricking the world into clapping its hands for you. Be wary, though: even if you win the Nobel prize, it won't mean a thing unless you win it for expressing your SELF. Otherwise, your deep-seated doubts and insecurities about your SELF go untouched and unhealed. One more thing—if you're doing your best and nobody's clapping, remember this: your act is fine; it's the audience that needs to be replaced. (From "The Sky Within," by Steven Forrest. Courtesy of Matrix Software [http://thenewage.com] and Steven Forrest [http://www.stevenforrest.com].)

Among its several natal programs, Matrix Astrological Software created a unique report based on the published works of the early-twentieth-century astrologer Grant Lewi (1901-1952). Lewi's highly original delineations were recognized as creative and insightful by his contemporaries. One measure of the appeal of his work is that his books Astrology for the Millions and Heaven Knows What are still in print. The following is excerpted from the report program "Heaven Knows What":

"We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here. / Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!" we said; / "We shall go down with unreluctant tread, / Rose-crowned into the darkness!" ... Proud we were, / And laughed, that had such brave true things to say. / And then you suddenly cried, and turned away." (Rupert Brooke, born in Leo, August 3, 1887.)

The mainspring of Leo's great energy, vitality and charm is his instinctive desire for both public acclaim and self-approval. Of all the signs, Leo is perhaps the most aware of himself; in a sense he is always before the looking glass, seeing what effect he is making. In shallow types this makes for mere vanity, pompousness, pride. Add profundity, and all this is changed. Your best Leo type is earnest, sincere, eager to please himself and the world around him and willing, in order to do so, to take on infinite work and go to infinite trouble. He is not genuinely introspective; he has little capacity to discover his inner faults; but he is very sensitive to the effect he makes on others, and studies therefore what to do to make a better effect. There is a difference here from self-analysis to improve character from the inside, but the difference is in method rather than in result.

For Leo, in the process of appearing something desirable, actually becomes something desirable. He knows instinctively the wisdom of the advice Hamlet gave his mother: "Assume a virtue if you have it not." By assuming the appearance of a virtue for the sake of winning approval, he actually acquires the virtue itself, for he is the soul of truth and cannot behave as he doesn't feel. He thus removes the curse from his play acting, for his sense of the dramatic is strong, and the roles he assumes are noble. This would be unbearable if in the process Leo did not actually become noble—but he does; some of the greatest spirits who have ever walked the earth are these very Leos who chose for themselves a high role in which to merit the world's approval, lived up to the role, and actually became what they wanted to be admired for. "Such a price do the gods exact for a song, to become what we sing." Whether he is found in business, on the stage (and he often is), or in a love affair (where also he often is), Leo is acutely aware of himself, always standing off and appraising the effect he is making. He will usually be found, if not conventional, at least discreet. Self-approval replaces conscience; he'll do anything if he thinks it is right, and will brave public opinion if his self-approval is sufficiently important to outweigh the loss of public approval. However he behaves, you can rest assured that he is always acutely aware of what people are thinking of him and that he is striving to make them think as well as possible. (Courtesy of Matrix Software [http://thenewage.com].)

The following excerpt comes not from a natal report program, but from David Cochrane's recent book, Astrology for the 21st Century. Based on lessons for astrology students, it approaches the signs of the zodiac from a somewhat different perspective than the other short delineations cited here:

Heightened self-consciousness is the underlying process of Leo. I have not been able to formulate all zodiac sign influences in the energy process perspective, but Leo is one that I view more with an energy process perspective than a list of correlations or symbolic archetypal images. I have repeatedly and consistently found that the person with a great deal of Leo in the birth chart has an acute sense of his own existence and individuality. Symptoms of this acute self-awareness range from shyness to fear of being in front of groups, to feelings of insecurity about one's own competency, to exaggerated feelings of one's own competency and a desire to be in the limelight. Leo is regarded by many, probably the majority, of astrologers as being sunny, outgoing, brash, and egotistical, but I have found the opposite traits of shyness and lack of self-esteem to be just as common. (Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [http://cosmic.patterns.com] and David Cochrane [[email protected] ware.com].)

A number of specialized report programs have been developed that offer useful supplements to the generic delineations of general reports. The following sun-sign interpretation has been drawn from a program written by Gloria Star (originally part of her book, Astrology: Woman to Woman) that generates a specialized report for women:

With your Sun in Leo you're likely to radiate a sense of regality and power, even if you're just sitting at home in your old jeans. Although you may not demand to be the center of attention, you can certainly carry it off when the spotlight is on you. You're driven by a need to create and express yourself, and enjoy playful people and situations. When challenged your pride can get in your way unless you develop some objectivity about yourself, which can be a tough job if you're too self-absorbed. It's okay to think of yourself as royalty some of the time, but just remember that others may not see you that way!

Since you're no stranger to the spotlight, you've probably had ample opportunities to express your assertiveness and personal strength. Your Leo Sun is a magnet for attention, and your actions and attitudes determine whether or not that attention is helpful or detrimental. You have the potential to radiate a powerful energy and may be an inspiration to those who need a stable source of confirmation that life is, indeed, okay. You can be intimidating to men who are unsure of themselves and may even take advantage of this; just try to remember your own insecurity when you first faced raw power! Taking on the challenge of leadership can be one of your most fulfilling experiences, although you can be quite domineering in some situations. If you've been giving away your power to the men in your life, you have probably attracted strong-willed individuals. But to become truly complete, you must learn to embrace and express your own individuality in a manner which opens your creativity and fills your heart.

Well, admit it, sometimes it's just fun to show off with your Sun in Leo. You may even be quite low-key, and gracious about giving others the spotlight. But you know that when you're shining in all your glory, that the light can be blinding for a moment, and then, well, you're just gorgeous! To feel a true sense of success, you may need that few moments of fame and glory. And if you're doing it right, the Universe may even grant you more! (From "Woman to Woman," by Gloria Star. Courtesy of Matrix Software [http://thenewage.com] and Gloria Star [[email protected]].)

Responding to the revival of interest in pre-twentieth-century astrology, J. Lee Lehman developed a report program embodying the interpretive approach of traditional astrology. The following is excerpted from her book Classical Astrology for Modern Living and her computer program "Classical Report":

You are capable of being highly honored, and of gaining wealth and dignity. You are courageous, proud, sober, grave, generous, resolute, strong, valiant, crafty, cruel, discrete, and fierce. You are affable enough, but you must be careful to really mean it, because you are not good at the polite white lie ("But you must have lost weight, Darling, you look absolutely ravishing!"), whatever you might think. You are grave of manner, high-minded, and honest. It is a point of honor to keep your promises. As a bestial sign, you can be quite lascivious. This also means that you can be vicious or violent if angered.

You are a Fire Sign, which means that you are "hot" and "dry." The "dry" component means, among other things, that you see distinctions easily, and that you are more swayed by intellectual argument than by passion. Being "hot," you react to things quickly: by expressing your anger strongly and immediately, you don't tend to harbor a grudge. You may be perceived by others as angry, but that's only if they are not "hot" as well. You will be perceived as high energy, you are aware of a curious stillness amidst the seeming activity. You may need more sleep than colder types in order to recharge your batteries.

You are fixed, which means you are strong-willed and stubborn. You will want to hang onto people and things long after they have ceased to be useful to you. Being a four-footed sign, you have a strong sex drive. This also means that you can be vicious or violent if angered. (Courtesy of J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D., copyright 1998, [http://www.leelehman.com].)

Readers interested in examining interpretations for their Chinese astrological sign should refer to the relevant entry. A guide for determining one's sign in the Chinese system is provided in the entry on the Chinese zodiac.

Sources:

Cochrane, David. Astrology for the 21st Century. Gainesville, FL: Cosmic Patterns, 2002. Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky: How to Make Wiser Choices for a More Fulfilling Life. 4th ed. San

Diego: ACS Publications, 1989. Green, Landis Knight. The Astrologer's Manual: Modern Insights into an Ancient Art. Sebastopol,

CA: CRCS Publications, 1975. Hall, Manly P. Astrological Keywords. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. Reprint, Savage,

MD: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks, 1975. Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Astrology for Modern Living: From Ptolemy to Psychology & Back Again.

Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1996. Lewi, Grant. Astrology for the Millions. 5th rev. ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1978.

-. Heaven Knows What. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1969.

Star, Gloria. Astrology & Your Child: A Handbook for Parents. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2001.

-. Astrology: Woman to Woman. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1999.

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