Those of you who have seen the Disney movie The Lion King may remember the scene where Mufasa, the king lion, and Simba, his young son and heir apparent, were looking over their kingdom, Pridelands, as the sun was setting. Mufasa was telling Simba of his glorious inheritance and future:
Mufasa (in the sonorous voice of James Earl Jones):
Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Simba: (quietly, but with awe) Wow.
Mufasa: A king's time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.
Simba: And this'll all be mine?
The Lion King is a modern retelling of the hero's journey with all the usual archetypes - the hero, his death/rejection, redemption and resurrection, the deceptive shadow, the wise guardian and so on - all aspects of the hero's persona as he undertakes a life journey in a quest for self-awareness and self-development through a sequence of experience comprising separation, initiation and transformation, and return. Of course, the story of a hero searching to discover who he is and why he is here is also our story, and just like all stories about heroes, the adventure is a metaphor for growth, self-awareness and mastery.
It is entirely appropriate that we recall this particular story about a young lion king on the path of self-discovery as we approach the full moon of Leo as it is in Leo, after an heroic effort over countless lifetimes, that the light of the sun shines upon us, and we rise as kings ruling over ourselves. Furthermore, as we do this, we joyously discover that everything the light touches becomes our kingdom.
While Alice Bailey tells us that the entire theme of the zodiac can be approached from the angle of light, i it is the light of the soul that is a hallmark of the Leo experience. In order to understand this light we must first understand the nature of the soul.
There is no doubt that belief in the existence of the soul is universal. In the Christian tradition, it is referred to as "the Christ within", the inner divinity in each person and its realm is known as "the kingdom of God or heaven". In the Jewish tradition, the soul is sometimes referred to as "the vital principle" while in the Hindu religion, it is called the "Atma" or "Self". Buddhism refers to the soul as "the Buddha Mind," "the mind of enlightenment" or bodhichitta. All traditions teach that the soul reveals the light of the true self; indeed, in ancient Greece, the Delphi Oracle proclaimed, "Man, know thyself, and thou wilt know the universe and the gods." As we grow in knowledge of our soul, we grow in knowledge of ourselves and all creation.
Just as the Christ mediates between the Father and Mother, the soul is understood as the relationship between the two poles of spirit and matter and as the two poles interact, their interplay results in the development of consciousness. This is true of an atom to the highest form of created life. However, it is important to understand that all life expressions below the human level of development are conditioned by a collective rather than an individual soul. For example, animals do not have individual souls but instead share the group soul of their particular species. For the animal, consciousness is primarily experienced through its relationship to instinct as defined by the species of which is a part. Therefore, an animal does not truly know itself to be separate from the instinctual behaviours it has inherited.
However, human beings have individual souls because they possess an individual body - the causal body - to contain the soul. It is this fact that makes it possible for humans to know themselves as individuals, separate and distinct from others. Perhaps most importantly, it is the causal body that gives the human being the capacity to think and to reason, and to be no longer dominated by the animal instinctual nature. The causal body creates an individual containment, making it possible for a person to experience a sense of "I AM".
Esoteric literature tells us that the causal body was given to us when the sun was in Leo in the middle of the Lemurian epoch of human existence enabling humanity to experience individualisation. This took place when our Solar Angels, in an act of stupendous and selfless service, came to earth to plant the spark of individualised mind into nascent humanity. They did this by providing the form necessary for humanity to develop individual causal bodies and planting the principle of intelligence within that form, thereby making it possible for mankind to build into its evolutionary development the divine quality of manas (mind). From that day onwards, every human being has had a Solar Angel overshadowing him or her and providing the design and structure of the causal body. ii
The outstanding quality of the soul is light and as we allow the light of our souls to become manifest, we join our consciousness with the Christ to become planetary light-bearers. Alice Bailey tells us that "the object for which life takes form and the purpose of manifested being is the unfoldment of consciousness, or the revelation of the soul. This might be called the Theory of the Evolution of Light. When it is realised that even the modern scientist is saying that light and matter are synonymous terms, thus echoing the teaching of the East, it becomes apparent that through the interplay of the poles, and through the friction of the pairs of opposites, light flashes forth. The goal of evolution is found to be a gradual series of light demonstrations. Veiled and hidden by every form lies light. As evolution proceeds, matter becomes increasingly a better conductor of the light, thus demonstrating the accuracy of the statement of the Christ "I am the Light of the World". iii
When people walk in the light of their souls and allow it to pour through them, both the Path and the Plan are revealed to them. But so is the darkness, for the light always reveals the shadows, and the sensitive disciple is faced with the sometimes overwhelming weight of the sorrow, misery, failure and despair of the world, and the seeming futility of right action. The challenge is not to focus on the shadows, which are, after all, only imperfect and faint representations of the underlying light, but to centre one's mind on the reality of the light of the soul - the consciousness within - and radiate that light into the world of shadows. Of course, the result is that the shadows cannot withstand the light and must disappear. Esoterically, this process is described as impressing Spirit into Matter so that the imprisoned consciousness in Matter is released by the application of light so that everything the light touches becomes part of the kingdom of God.
It is perhaps ironic that most spiritual traditions teach self-denial, self-forgetfulness, "putting oneself to death", and all kinds of self-abnegation in service to the whole if one is to be successful on the spiritual path. Christ told us we had to lose our life to save it and the Buddha taught that the self is the root of all sorrow. Yet in the Leo experience, the individual self is dignified, even glorified, in the full light of solar radiance (bearing in mind that the sun rules Leo on every level). "I AM" becomes the triumphant refrain which conquers and reigns over all.
The reason for this emphasis on the self is that aspirants must know themselves before they can know the inner divinity which is their true soul, and having fused with it, then proceeding to fuse with the divinity within all others. The collective identity of Cancer, subservient to the taboos and thinking-feeling reactive behaviour and collective consciousness of the tribe, must be superseded by individualisation through the development of an integrated personality. In the words of astrologer Dane Rudhyar, "a person controlled by a strong ego acts, thinks, and feels as an 'individual' because this ego is able to mobilize and control the psychic and even biological energies of human nature in an "un-divided" manner. The individualized ego-controlled person in most instances still operates within his or her native culture, but has emerged from the psychic matrix of family and culture as a relatively independent 'individual self'". iv
Furthermore, although Leos are natural leaders, sometimes their rise to leadership positions is because they have not yet learnt how to co-operate with others. So they lead them instead, often projecting themselves forcefully on their subjects as dictators. v But as they submit to their inner guide, the soul, and unite their will with the higher Will, they become more group conscious and inclusive and adapt their leadership style to that of the co-operative leadership model used by the Spiritual Hierarchy. When they do this, they very often excel in service to the greater life. vi
We are told that the regal Leo finds its crown in its opposite sign, Aquarius, where the individualised consciousness that sprang out of the mass consciousness of Cancer becomes a group consciousness. In this way, all three signs are combined into "the triangle of consciousness of humanity" vii whereby the principle that all souls are part of the One Soul, the Oversoul, or the Universal Soul is accepted as fact and the Brotherhood of All becomes the driving energy. This is the expression, in the outer world, of the light of the soul and soul purpose which is to establish the kingdom of God on earth. Brotherhood is the outward realisation of the inner spiritual unity among all human beings and the disciple discovers the truth of Lucille Cedercrans' statement in The Soul and Its Instrument, "any relationship other than brotherhood is superficial and at best a substitute for the real". viii
So as we move from the individual consciousness of Leo to the beauty of group life, group interest and group consciousness of Aquarius, group responsibility awakens and service to humanity becomes the dominating force in our lives. We realise that progress, contentment, peace of mind and prosperity do not exist for us as individuals until it also exists for everyone. The man becomes Mankind; the separated human transforms himself into Humanity. From self service we proceed to world service, never losing the individual identity we acquired in Leo but expanding it to include others as well in the recognition that all beings are part of the one Life. Alice Bailey reassures us on this point, "yet, though we are merged with the whole, we do not lose our identity, but forever remain separated units of consciousness, though one with all that lives or is". ix
One of the ways Leo leads us to this reorientation is through the application of the fires of purification which create the "burning grounds" in our life. Although they may not seem so at the time, burning grounds are gifts from the soul to help us remove everything that drives us to live inauthentic lives which prevent us from manifesting the Kingdom. Simba's burning ground was his long desert experience after he thought he was responsible for his father's death and it was during this time he discovered his destiny. Another less modern hero, Percival, plagued with doubt, beset with travail, and tormented by temptation, wandered through the wilderness for five years searching for the Holy Grail. It is in the burning grounds - the dry, distraught, empty, fiery times of our lives - that we experience the adventures we need to take us to greater light and life. This takes place as we follow our hearts and live authentic lives "rooted and grounded in love" x and dedicated to the greater life. After his burning ground experience, Simba became king of the animal kingdom; Percival became the Grail King; and we become kings of ourselves and stand as initiates in the Presence of the Great King, the One Initiator, having used the light of the soul in Leo to become the light of the world in Aquarius. In the words of one of the songs in The Lion King, just the thought of this is "enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best", xi and indeed it is our duty and joy as disciples to always ponder upon the "Good, the True and the Beautiful", even as we take the kingdom by storm. In this context, one cannot help but agree with Martha Heyneman when she says, "a soul - our own I, our individuality - must, paradoxically, be earned before it can be bestowed. It is up to us to build our cathedral, to become a worthy vessel, before the spark can safely become a living fire, transforming every cell of the body into an instrument for the individual expression of the divine here on earth". xii
In The Lion King, Simba came to understand a kind of group consciousness by contemplating the Circle of Life which honoured the diversity and interdependence of all life:
The sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life. xiii
Likewise, disciples in Leo realise that the sun/soul which shines upon them is part of a greater sun/soul and it is that sun/soul which must be served. Deep within their fiery hearts, they hear:
"There is but one great circle, not many little spheres.
Some stars are small and time must feed their flame.
Some stars are suns and shed their light on every hand.
Seek out a sun and feed its life.
Shed forth your rays and live." xiv
Alice Bailey spoke of the "Circle of Liberation" which until recently was "entered by the individual initiate, and has been down the ages, but now, for the first time, it is being entered by humanity itself and as a whole
Humanity, entering this circle, will be confronted by the first major lesson: the Unity of the One Life". xv This speaks of a mass initiation for humanity, the first mass initiation that has occurred since the coming of the Solar Angels when the Sun was in Leo millions of years ago. As we increasingly develop the group consciousness of Aquarius, we will all enter this Circle of Liberation.
Finally, perhaps it would be fitting to end a commentary on Leo with one of the oldest mantrams known to us, The Gayatri. The Gayatri is an ancient greeting to the rising sun; the sun which gives us life and provides the sustaining power throughout our long journey from mass to individual to group consciousness as we spiral around the Circle of Life:
O Thou Who givest sustenance to the universe,
From Whom all things proceed,
To Whom all things return,
Unveil to us the face of the true Spiritual Sun
Hidden by a disc of golden Light
That we may know the truth
And do our whole duty
As we journey to Thy sacred feet.
Let us join together this Leo full moon to call forth fiery solar blessings upon our group which is humanity. Together, let our light touch everything in the Circle of Life so that it becomes a Circle of Liberation that releases the kingdom within us, and all creation.