We gather today in the light of Leo, aligned with that most mysterious and potent of planets, Sirius. Our theme is the great theme of our times: the maturing of self, individuality, and the harmonizing of self and whole.
It is significant that our approach to the energies of Aslan, the Lion King, takes place at a time when the mass consciousness is absorbed in the dramas and heroic accomplishments of the Olympic games in Beijing. Hundreds of millions of people are watching TV broadcasts of the Games in their homes. Reuters estimate that about one billion people watched the opening ceremony - that's around 15 per cent of the global population. There is nothing quite like it in modern culture - every four years the collective heart has a great stimulus - there is a party spirit - joy and disappointment merge as different nationalities watch their hopes for medals - nationalism finds its proper place in the midst of the collective as the spirit of the different nations 'play' together, challenging each other and drawing inspiration from the heroic persistence, concentration, harmony and focus of athletes and teams.
There is something about the Olympics that is the epitome of Leo - for it is primarily a place where individual achievement is honored and where the human capacity for super-human skill and mind-power and focus is played out on a world stage. The incredible will to achieve, which is the characteristic gift given to humanity by Leo, prances before our eyes during the Games and shows off without reserve. In Leo and most especially during the record breaking performances we can all say to ourselves in our own language and through our own inner dialogues - what a truly incredible thing is the human being.
For me, one of the great delights of the Olympics is the ceremonies of the opening and closing of the games. There is nothing quite like the rituals that are emerging and unfolding through time at these massive events. They draw on myth and legend and magic to transform the human spirit - traditionally arts like dance, music, opera and sacred drama have played this role - yet at the Olympics it is as if the entire human family is the audience. So when there is a gasp of awe at some stunning scene one can sense a movement in the collective. As everyone gathered around the TV screen holds their breath - or screams with delight - there is a palpable echo that can be sensed throughout the collective of all the world families gathered around all the television screens - as if we were all seated together in one giant circus tent.
This year there was so much in the opening ceremony as the world breathed with China and entered into a new relationship with this most populous of all countries. For me at least something magical happened as ones thoughts of Tibet and of the vulnerable emergence of a human rights agenda in China became balanced with the 'otherness' that is China's gift to the twenty-first century. How wonderful to place the focus on harmony and on the traditions of Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism.
The high point for me was in the image of the children gathered in the central circle, studying the problems of the modern human situation - and the need to build right relations with the environment - surrounded by a group of two thousand and eight Tai Chi performers moving in perfect synchronicity in unbelievable patterns of harmony and of incredible energy. What an image of Youth - of evolution - of Hierarchy - and of the New Group of World Servers - and of the future. For those who missed the broadcasts you can see the performance/ pageantry part of the opening ceremony on line at: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/nbcencore/index,page=2.htmx
When we consider the energies of Leo and of individuality it is important that we have in mind the opposites: Leo and Aquarius. It is in the dynamic tension and harmonizing of these polarities that we can best understand the nature of the incredible transformation occurring in the psyche through this historical period.
Leo is all about self. And that, from a superficial perspective, might seem to be a problem. How often do we hear that the 'me' generation with its selfishness and its focus on me, my and mine is the central spiritual problem of our age. Well - look again. Yes, of course it's a problem. But from an evolutionary perspective it represents an achievement. Consciousness is growing up - moving from identification with the mass into a concentration on individuality and self-consciousness. On the spiritual path we cannot know ourselves as divine beings until we know ourselves as separate, strong individuals. To understand this we need to think in terms of the evolution of self-hood, in different cultural contexts, over a period of three or four centuries.
There is a curious magic in self-hood. The path towards selflessness leads through selfishness and absorption in the drama of 'me'. The true selfishness of Leo brings with it a driving urge to fulfillment and betterment - a will to be who one can potentially be. For a time (perhaps a whole life time) that can lead to intent focus on the separate self at the expense of everyone else - yet this will- to-be leads in time to what is referred to in astrology as a great turning, a reversal of the wheel of the zodiac. By approaching the fullness of self we are brought into contact with the essence of Self - with Soul.
And so Leo leads us into Aquarius - into identification with the whole and into finding purpose in serving the whole. For the Soul, the Self in its essential nature, is on its own plane preoccupied with the good of the whole and with the evolution of the species and the Great Work of incarnating wholeness and synthesis.
Leo is a fire sign. So when we think of this energy we think of consciousness going through a fiery purification - this is what the path of transition from selfishness to selflessness is all about. And this is how we can understand the cultural and psychological dynamics of our age. A great fire is raging through the psyche - burning off limited identifications. The Soul is lighting up fires through the fields of mind and heart, clearing away refuse and leaving a freer, more transparent, simple and radiant individual. And we are all a part of this - for evolution of selfhood is happening through our lives. And each one of us, regardless of our Sun sign or our rising sign, can find meaning and purpose in the fact that the fires burning through our lives and our identities are the fires of evolution - in the microcosm. It is right here, in the small arena of our lives that we are called to work with will - a will to achieve illumination - and a will to let the soul control the outer world and life and all events. As we do this work, with increasing consciousness and care, so are we doing God's work.
The keynote for meditation comes from a pondering on the question, 'Who am I'? Leo calls us to a time when we will, with a singleness of purpose and transparent honesty be able to say 'I am That and That am I' - saying this not as an affirmation but as a direct statement of experience - of who I am. Each of us will in time enter this space, in full consciousness - then we will be able to express ourselves as the universal server of Aquarius.