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Frederick Franck, Nelson Mandela, Madonna and the Leo Spirit

Steve Nation
July 2007


Early last year my wife and I had the opportunity to spend time in the garden sanctuary Pacem in Terris: home, museum and sculpture garden of the artist / writer Frederick Franck. It is an extraordinarily refreshing and inspiring place - everything in the environment leads you into a reflection on the beauty and sacredness of life.

With rich experiences including work as an oral surgeon for a number of years with Albert Schweitzer in Africa, visits with Pope John XXIII and links with Japanese Buddhist teacher Daisetz T. Suzuki, Franck's art and life were an illustration of his profound sense of what it is to be human and to be a full individual.

I don't believe in gurus, he told an interviewer for Tricycle magazine shortly before his death. I believe that each one of us has a riddle to solve, the riddle of what it means to be human. When we are born we are some kind of hominid, a little anthropoid animal with the potential and the capacity to become human.

The Leo energy is all about the development of this capacity to become human. It is about the nature of the human Self, me, I … with the curious insight that the core of 'I', the essential Self, is utterly selfless, self-forgetful, harmless … and that this human Self is an eternal being. The way of becoming fully human moves from strong identity with the 'little' self of the personal I who is born and will die through to identity with the 'greater Self' where we know ourselves to be One with the Universe, One with all of life.

In many ways the meaning of our time can be summed up by an understanding of what is occurring in the nature of human self awareness. We are a species in process of becoming human. The preciousness of the individual - the importance of every single human being in incarnation - is beginning to be recognised in national and international legal processes and in the emerging morality of the age. Our time is all about self in this sense - about the rights of the human being and about the struggle through generations to protect and guarantee those rights. It is about the empowerment of people's self-hood and their ability to plan and determine their own destiny.

One of the archetypal events of our time was the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president of the new, free 'rainbow' South Africa in 1994. Rumour suggested that Mandela used a quotation from Marianne Williamson: Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. While he did not use this quotation his inaugural speech did give voice to the Leo impulse with the statement: Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves. It is this emergence of the vision of self-hood that is one of the keynotes of our age.

The dominant self-awareness of modern humanity reflects a focus on fusion and blending of the various aspects of the personality to create an integrated, strong 'I'. It is individuals who are stepping out of mass consciousness, learning to flex their muscles and become themselves; learning to master the world of feelings and to work with purpose and will. In the first half of the twentieth century this process was reflected in the emergence of dominant dictators in Europe and the West. Now we see some dictators in Africa and parts of Asia but the main surge of self-awareness is in the growing psychology of independence and strong separated individuals. We often bemoan this potency of the separated self - but we should recognise it is an evolutionary development, and is to be welcomed.

The other keynote of the culture of the times is the vision of wholeness, universality and oneness. Again this is an expression of Leo. These two aspects of self-hood are not contradictory. We are, as a species, in process of becoming human - responding strongly to the vision to attain self-hood in a personal sense and, in the process, awakening to a sense of the higher universal Self. This is very much the story of our time, and it is also the story of Leo and its polar opposite, Aquarius.

Leo brings with it a will to self-rule and this is one of its greatest gifts. For as our sense of self-hood enlarges to make us sensitive to the eternal Self, the path of becoming fully human takes a new direction. The meaning behind our life experiences directs us onto an upward slope as we choose, freely, to govern our personal life in the light of the laws of the higher Self. We want the Soul to control our outer form and life and all events.

The Live Earth concerts on July 7th seemed to me to be a remarkable symbol of this new direction for humanity. The problems of climate change are symptomatic of a global culture and economic/political system which is ripe for (and in process of) transformation. Mostly we see the need for transformation as something 'outside' our selves - something for government to do. Live Earth got us excited by reminding us that now it is each one of us who has to make changes in the way we live. The call is to act on our higher sense of Self and to take steps to rule our own life in the light of the global challenge of climate change.

In symbolic terms Madonna captured this Leo self-identity spirit of the Live Earth event with her performance of Hey You , and its riveting refrain:

First love yourself, then you can love someone else
If you can change someone else, then you have saved someone else
But you must first love yourself, then you can love someone else
If you can change someone else, then you have saved someone else
But you must first …

Well worth reading the lyrics.

This Leo full moon, let us envisage the empowerment of self, in all its levels on the spiral, but in particular in the myriad incarnated lives of our brothers and sisters who are learning to live in the light of the universal being of the eternal Self. As Madonna puts it:

Hey you,
Just be yourself, don't be so shy
There's reasons why it's hard