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Modern Views & Old Associations by Deborah Houlding

Who praises all his kindred ?
Expects his friends to praise them too ??
But cannot see their senseless view ???
It is the Leo!!!



Read about
the Sun

Sun's Transit:
23 Jul - 22 Aug

(hot and dry)


Star lore

Sun significations

Leo the Lion Leo symbol

Personality Traits | Dignified Planets | Typical Features | Traditional Rulerships | Traditional Definitions | Famous Leos


Personality Traits

Leo is the sign of the Sun, the central heart of the solar system, majestic ruler of the heavens. In ancient times the Sun came to its full glory and reached the height of its annual ascent as it joined the stars in the constellation of the Lion. Ever since, lions have been portrayed in art, myth and iconography as powerful symbols of solar strength, supremacy, glory, light and brilliance.

Widespread hero myths, such as those of Gilgamesh, Oedipus, Orion, Hercules or Samson, bear tales of wrestling with the lion; all have been identified as calendar myths that relate to the story of the sun's journey through the sky. As the hero does battle with the lion, he absorbs the solar qualities and takes them as his own. In the widely reported Greek myth, Leo is said to commemorate the fierce Nemean Lion, brother of the sphinx, which Hercules must defeat in the first of his trials. The Nemean lion is a symbol of the fierce and devastating summer heat that ravishes the land. No weapon, stone, club or instrument made of iron or bronze can penetrate its skin; it is an 'impossible' task, unyielding to cunning, craft or speed. Hercules can only succeed by summoning the entire strength of his being, the full magnitude of his inner will and fixed, determined spirit. His conquest becomes a testimony to the power of mind over matter, the individual's capacity to move heaven and earth and attain the unattainable through the process of connecting with the heart of one's being and giving full reign to the creative force that resides, mainly dormant, within.

As the sign of the Sun, Leo is characterised by courage, an invincible attitude, and the gift of unsuppressed will to rise above the ordinary. Anatomically, Leo has rulership over the heart and blood; symbolically, it also signifies the metaphorical parallels that see the heart as the centre of strength and vitality, and the 'blood raising' process as one that allows us to engage in battles - moral, physical, territorial or political - free from the restraints of logical recognition of consequences or instinctive awareness of limitations. The word 'courage' derives from the Latin word for the heart, Cor, and literally means 'to take heart' (and therefore overcome one's fears). In the 'blood raising' process we become bigger, more powerful, more conscious and more capable than we normally consider ourselves to be, and Leos have an easy ability to take on this grander persona whenever they feel the need to assert qualities of superiority.

The Sun is a natural symbol for power and command. Traditionally, the Sun represents the captain, the boss, the leader or the king. In Leo the lion, the 'king of the beasts', the theme of majestic grandeur is never far from the observable traits. Put simply, whatever opinions anyone else may have on the matter, a Leo perceives him- or herself as the royal center of activity. Lions are territorial animals and care little about what happens outside the boundaries of their own terrain; similarly, all Leos will have an area that they view as 'their kingdom' - their rightful place to shine where they can become the nucleus that directs, organizes and orchestrates. To some it is the domestic environment; to others, a hobby or intellectual pursuit; others yet may find it in a wider professional or political arena. Wherever this 'kingdom' exists, a Leo will take great pride and pleasure in being viewed as someone to look up to. Treat them with respect, and they demonstrate that well-earned reputation for a broad-minded, enthusiastic and magnanimous disposition.

However, should a Leo have cause to view another as a predator, then never was a creature more sensitive or responsive to assumed slights and imagined threats. Open-minded tolerance and relaxed confidence fall away as ego-driven urges swing into gear. A Leo as an adversary makes a bloody-minded opponent and the dominating qualities of this sign are such that they rarely feel appeased with victory unless it involves the total annihilation of the threat. Leos are well known for sensitivity to their own emotions, and yet they are far less empathetic to the thoughts and feelings of others; hence this sign has one of the most fearsome reputations amongst the zodiac signs for exhibiting brutal or extreme behaviour. Ancient astrologers referred to Leo as 'bestial', meaning responsive to primordial instincts rather than higher reasoning; and 'feral' because it was considered capable of savage and ferociously destructive traits. This is the darker side of the Leo. It is rarely explored in sun-sign columns that dwell on the warmth, vitality, and sunshine-filled aura that Leos generally demonstrate when they are not being pushed to the limits of their behaviour. Other negative traits include a tendency towards being dogmatic, a bullying mentality, self-conceit, vanity, and a snobbish, patronizing disposition.

Leo's element is fire and its nature is hot and dry. Fire types are characterised by spontaneity; swift, intuitive responses; vivacious and infectious ways of relating to others, and high energy levels. They are attracted to passion, drama and crave attention. This latter is particularly evident in Leos, who revel in positions that draw attention to them; where it is not forthcoming they will make conscious and unconscious attempts to foster it though the use of strong, vivid colours, dramatic gestures and overblown expressions.

Traditionally the fire signs are termed Choleric, deriving from the Greek term Khole, meaning 'bile'. In humoral philosophy the bile is considered the seat for the expression of anger, thus choleric types are often considered irascible and quick to show their temper: externally in their words and actions, and internally through the way that their blood rate increases with their passions, leading to throbbing temple veins and flushed-red complexions. Nicholas Culpeper noted that such types are by nature "quick witted, bold, unshamedfaced, furious, hasty, quarrelsome" yet also "courageous". He described them as often full of anger and light in movement with a pulse which is swift and strong.[1]

However, Leo is a fixed sign and therefore the propensity for hasty action is moderated. Leos are unlikely to respond to every trifling event and generally take time to let their opinions form, during the process of which many minor irritations resolve themselves. They are often referred to as simple-minded, meaning that they tend to relate to things exactly as they are expressed and see them just as they appear on the surface. Communication should be plain, simple and direct, though literary types may reveal a signature of flamboyance in rich and colourful, artistic expressions. Leos don't make a habit of looking for deeper meanings, neither do they have a very detailed eye, but tend to appreciate things from the broader perspective. This gives them a talent for seeing the whole picture and suits their leadership skills in that they have breadth of vision and a ready grasp of the overall shape of things. But they are out of their depth when dealing with the essential detailed practicalities that make the vision work and often rely upon the co-operation and support of more discerning types to ensure that particulars are not overlooked.

Leos are commonly reported as being opposed to pettiness, and they seem to possess an optimistic belief that everything will work itself out in the fullness of time. Whilst a conviction that sweet providence is taking care of them is generally a blessing that sustains their confidence, and such buoyancy usually does foster success, this attitude can lead to major problems, especially when their disinterest in practical details combines with their leaning towards extravagance and exaggerated plans. Limitations of all sorts are alien to the Leo nature; and many Leos are poor at budgeting themselves or restricting their financial output to what they can actually afford. They are prone to ostentatious financial commitments and material indulgences that incline them to live at the edge of their means if not beyond. Periods when balancing the books is necessary can be a very depressing time for Leos; this often comes in the form of a crisis that can no longer be ignored. The importance of self-limitation is a lesson that ought to be driven home to all young Leos, but their lack of natural talent in this area is part of the downside of having a colourful attitude towards living life to the fullest.

As lovers and partners Leos are a strange mix of contradictory traits. They are known for being expressive, extravagant and warm with their affections, but equally they have a self-obsessed quality that can become a point of conflict in one-to-one relationships based on a platform of mutual equality. They can go through periods of excluding the partner, being totally absorbed in their own interests, and then make grand romantic gestures, becoming overwhelming charming for a while in an effort to make up for their neglect. Leos are usually loyal and straightforward with their emotions, striving for stability; they dislike subtle game playing and put great store by honesty and openness. However, traditionally, the sign is not a favourable one for marriage because Leos basically have a problem with sharing their field and maintain rigid, inflexible views on the essential way that life should be. Successful relationships can occur with partners that are more flexible in their approach, able to tolerate periods of exclusion in exchange for lots of fuss and attention from time to time, and especially if that partner is malleable enough to maintain independent interests whilst helping to support the Leo in mundane practicalities.

There is usually no shortage of romantic candidates drawn to their vibrant and charismatic appeal and young love can be intensely passionate. Like all the fire signs, Leos are idealistic and don't hold back from expressing their passion. They are extremely responsive to romantic attention, which is very gratifying to their ever-hungry ego, and as such they can suffer from rash romantic liaisons that are impetuous and unsuitable on a long term basis. "Guileless are the sentiments of their honest heart" claimed Manilius in the 1st century AD [2] - they are often said to act foolishly by placing too great a faith in human nature and expecting other people to see things in the simple, black and white shades that colour their vision.

All of the sun signs show us the traits that we can use to connect with a powerful force that makes us distinguished individuals, capable of rising above our habitual fears. The faults of the Leo are no more than the extremes of a nature that recognizes this most easily of all. Where the Sun shines, truth, nobility and pure-penetrating vitality can be found. Used consciously, Leo represents an elemental power that is healing, light-bringing, direct, joyous and strong. We simply need to remember that the lion can act like a pussy-cat at times, but it in its own heart it is always a magnificent creature that can never be fully tamed or manipulated against its will.

Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Leo:
Sun   as sign and day-time triplicity ruler
Jupiter  as night-time triplicity ruler.

Planets Debilitated in Leo:
Saturn   by detriment

More on planetary dignities and debilities 

Typical Features

Large, round head and prominent eyes. Strong and active body, generally larger and taller than average, broad shoulders, narrow sides. Fair or sandy hair, or a glint of red, often with a natural curl. The hair is generally thick and quick to grow but wherever the Sun is strong, as it is here in Leo, there is an inclination towards baldness. The complexion is usually clear, but again there is often an inclination to show redness in the skin colour.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All fire signs relate to the east. Leo signifies east tending towards north.
Anatomy:  The heart, blood and cardiac system; the back, spinal cord, and sides of the body.
Illnesses:  Unless planets are afflicted in Leo, the sign usually indicates strong vitality and a healthy constitution. It is susceptible to illnesses concerning the heart and cardiac arteries, including nervous palpitations. Also back pain and illnesses involving the ribs and sides such as Pleurisy (from the Latin Pleura 'side'). As a choleric sign it is prone to fevers and is linked to yellow-jaundice and sore eyes. It has affinity with diseases stemming from 'excess of blood' and is also associated with anaemia. The Moon in Leo can also indicate problems with the stomach or throat.
Places:  All 'majestic' and grandly furnished places such as theatres, lavish public buildings and monuments, public halls, auditoriums, parks; places connected with royalty and principle rulers: palaces, castles, forts. Also inaccessible places, deserts, forests and areas where wild animals roam freely. Inside houses Leo signifies places near to sources of heat and fire such as chimneys, or areas where the furnishings are particularly grand and rich - plush velvets in dramatic colours, gilt ornaments, etc.
Countries & cities:   Include Italy, Rome, the Alps; the Czech Republic, Turkey, Sicily, Prague, Alsace in France, Damascus, Lintz in Austria, Coblenz in Germany, Bristol in England.
Colours  Yellow, red and orange, gold and rich, deep and vibrant 'royal' colours.
Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with the Sun, Leo has affinity with gold, rubies, cats eyes, diamonds, dark red garnets and lustrous orange-yellow, orange-red, or yellow-brown zircon stones.
Traditional Rulerships of the Sun 

Traditional Definitions:

Barren:  The barren signs are Gemini, Leo and Virgo. These can suggest difficulty in conceiving children, or few children when placed on the 5th cusp of the chart. Leo is known as a sign of 'single births' in questions concerning the possibility of twins.
Bestial:  Bestial signs are those traditionally symbolised by four-footed animals. Also called quadrupedian (four-footed), these signs can lack in social graces and are reputed to display an animalistic reaction to their emotions, sometimes indicating coarseness and a poor appreciation of polite manners. They can also be a little inarticulate.
Feral:  The sign of Leo and the last half of Sagittarius are classified as 'feral' which literally means wild, uncultivated, savage or brutal. This relates to the cruel and insensitive streak that Leos can sometimes display when they disassociate their actions from their feelings and empathetic consideration of others. It is also one of the reasons why Leo is taken to signify uncultivated territory and places where wild animals roam.

Famous Leos:

Bill Clinton
Born: 19/08/1946
  View data, chart & notes
Born: 15/08/1759
  View data, chart & notes
Jennifer Lopez
Born: 24/07/1970
  View data, chart & notes
Mick Jagger
Born: 26/07/1943
  View data, chart & notes

Notes and references:
  1 ] Culpeper, N., Semeiotica Uranica: Or an Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick much Enlarged. (London: Nathan Brooke, 1658), Bk III, ch.iv.
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  2 ] Manilius, M., Astronomica, (c. 10 AD), tr. G. P. Goold. (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1977), Bk. IV, v.190.
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Constellation mythology and star lore of Leo 

© Deborah Houlding

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