To say that this is the Leo full moon is not to say that the moon itself is in the sign of Leo. Right now it is the sun that is in Leo. The sun is important during the full moon because it is the radiance of the sun that is reflected off the face of the moon onto the earth. The light that illumines the night with its soft gentle glow is reflected sunlight, and this month that reflected sunlight carries emanations and potencies of the constellation Leo.
These emanations are all about self-awareness. People who we think of as 'Leo types' are usually intensely self-aware and tend to see issues in relation to themselves: what can 'I' contribute, how can 'I' help; how will this effect me? There is nothing negative about this, it is simply the Leo lens, and it can be used either in service of the whole or in service of the personality.
We live at a time when the heavenly constellations are leading the human species as a whole into the opposite sign to Leo, Aquarius. While Leo speaks to us about the nature of self with a little 's', and of Self with a capital 'S', Aquarius speaks of union, fusion, and synthesis. As we stand on the threshold of a new era, prior to experiencing the full flow of Aquarian energies, self-awareness is in direct relationship with group awareness: sometimes the quality of self-awareness makes it hostile and antagonistic to any sense of group identity; but at the other end of the spectrum a strongly developed self-awareness can open easily and comfortably into a group sensitivity and identity. When astrologers speak of opposition between signs it suggests there is intensity, tension and dynamism in the relationship — the two are bound together in some way.
One of the thoughts that follows from the Leo Aquarius opposition, and here I am drawing on a passage in Alice Bailey's book, Esoteric Astrology, is that dominant world figures, super stars, heroes and pioneers in our time all feature a strong sense of self. They would not be in the limelight in the way they are if they did not have this strong self-awareness, strong ego. Those heroes who are leading us forward across the threshold use their personal power, their charisma and magnetism to foster our sense of universality, union and wholeness.
Leo is playing this role of lifting the small 's' self-awareness into the capital 'S' self-awareness. Through Leo types we are all being exposed to a sense of being a part of the One life, the One humanity — being part of groups that nestle into larger groups that fit into ever larger groups in a constantly expanding network of relationship.
This is how Leo the lion serves at this time of transition, reshaping the nature of self to bring it into alignment with the purposes and priorities of the Soul.
I was especially moved on Friday night by the way in which this Leo / Aquarius dynamic was presented during the ritual of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. I always love these ceremonies, knowing that over a billion people are watching, and that at their core the ceremonies present to humanity something of the soul and sense of self of the host nation.
On Friday night the spine-chilling moment for me was the presentation of the Olympic flag - eight heroes, figuratively eight "Leo types" carrying the flag of sportsmanship. As they processed around the stadium the eight paused while a ninth hero symbolically blessed the flag. How moving that this, the ninth, was a wounded hero — and a wounded Leo archetype: Mohammad Ali, initially famous as a boxer who shouted to the world 'I am the Greatest' then famous and much loved as a server of peace and justice, and now famous as a hero who, as a result of Parkinsons disease, has very little control over his body — during the ceremony he was able to stand but was not able to move his hands or to speak. The cameras focused in on his face and on his wife, standing beside him, gently whispering in his ear, explaining to him what was happening. Leo humbled, yet at the same time a picture of courage and of supreme dignity.
And who were the eight who carried the flag, reflecting the power of the individual leading humanity across the threshold and through into the new civilization:
- Haile Gebrselassie is an Ethiopian long distance runner, who won 4 Olympic gold medals and is widely considered one of the greatest distance runners in history;
- Ban ki-Moon is universally known as UN Secretary-General, the most prominent Diplomat for Humanity, and probably the most widely recognized member of this elite group of eight;
- Shami Chakrabati is a long-time human rights campaigner in Britain and director of the British civil liberties advocacy organization, Liberty;
- Marina Silva is a leading Brazilian environmentalist and politician. One of 11 children in a rubber tappers family, she grew up to be a passionate defender of the Amazon rain forest and served as President Lulu's Minister of Environment for 5 years;
- Doreen Lawrence was described on NBC television coverage as a local community activist from the East End of London, a depressed area of the city where the Olympic stadium is sited. But there is more to her story than that. When her son was the victim of a racist murder she became famous throughout the UK as leader of a campaign to investigate the actions of the Metropolitan Police. After many years of campaigning a judicial enquiry ordered by the government concluded that the Metropolitan Police was "institutionally racist" and a range of actions were undertaken to transform the culture of the police force.
- Sally Becker is popularly known in the UK and Bosnia as the Angel of Mostar. In the early 90s she risked her life as a volunteer seeking to help the victims of the Bosnian conflict where she is credited with saving hundreds of lives. Since the ending of the violence in the Balkans she has continued to work on behalf of victims of war;
- Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist who led the women's peace movement that ended the Liberian civil war in 2003. Together with two of her colleagues, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize;
- Daniel Barenboim is an internationally famous pianist and conductor who is also known as founder of the West-Eastern Divan youth orchestra made up of musicians from across the Middle East. The orchestra aims to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On Friday night Barenboim conducted the orchestra for a performance during the London Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall and immediately left for the Olympic stadium to take his part in the Ceremony.
So there we have it: eight heroes of humanity; eight outstanding examples of strong, self-aware individuals who have used their personalities and have pushed themselves to excellence and achievement in service.
In Leo it is this quality of personal achievement that is to be celebrated - particularly when the heights of self-awareness lead into and fuse with Aquarian qualities of service to the whole.
The keynote for meditation in Leo is: I am That; and That am I — a keynote that leads us into reflection on the mystery and glory of divinity at the centre of the Self. Who am I? I am That; and That am I.