We moved into the astrological sign of Leo on 22 July. It’s time to roll out the red carpet…running late this month, due to a bit of an IT nightmare.
Celestial ruler: Sun
Quality: Fixed (mid- season/high season)
Body: Heart and spine
Trees: Palm trees, laurel, walnuts, olive trees, lemon and orange trees.
Plants: Marigolds, sunflowers, dandelions, celandines, passion flowers
Gemstones: Peridot, carnelian, ruby, onyx
Key phrase: I love
Tarot card: Strength
Minor Arcana cards: The 5,6,7 Wands.
Leo is one of the 48 constellations described by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and one of the 88 modern constellations recognised by NASA today, situated between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east.
Leo is the 12th largest, and one of the most easily recognizable constellations due to its many bright stars, and a distinctive shape suggesting a crouching lion, apparently facing right.
The bright light beneath Leo as seen in the photo below is planet Jupiter.
In the northern hemisphere, in the Spring is the best time to see the Lion, starting around the March equinox. By June, Leo is descending in the west in the evening, drifting progressively westward, and by late July or early August, the Lion begins to fade into the sunset, returning to the eastern sky and visible before dawn around late September or October.
Look for the Big Dipper then look southwards, Leo is below the Big Dipper.
Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, Alpha Leonis, ‘The King Star’, is a sparkling blue-white star at the bottom of the backwards question mark pattern. The star’s name, Regulus, means “little king” or “prince” in Latin and its Greek name, Basiliscos, has the same meaning. The Arabic name is Qalb al-Asad, which means “the heart of the lion.”
Mind boggling factoid coming up- Leo’s fifth largest star, Epsilon Leonis, 247 light years from Earth, is 288 times more luminous than the Sun, four times as massive, and has a solar radius 21 times bigger.
A triangle of stars in eastern Leo depict the Lion’s hindquarters and tail, the brightest, Denebola, Arabic, means the Lion’s Tail.
Look out for meteor showers during Leo but actually these will be The Perseids, peaking around 12 August. The Leonids are the meteor showers associated with the constellation of Leo, coming from that direction around November 17-18 every year, and again in January; with a smaller shower peaking January 1 – 7.
There are 15 stars in Leo with 18 known planets between them, but none thought to be habitable.
Leo the Lion has since ancient times been associated with the sun, and is ruled by the sun in astrology. Leo is one of the oldest constellations collectively recognized in the sky, with many ancient civilizations agreeing on perceiving it as a lion. Archaeological evidence suggests that Mesopotamians recognized a constellation similar to Leo as early as 4000 BC. The Persians knew the constellation as Shir or Ser, Babylonians called it UR.GU.LA (“the great lion”), Syrians knew it as Aryo, and the Turks as Artan.
The story goes that the ancient Egyptians venerated Leo because the sun shone in front of this constellation at the time of the annual flooding of the Nile River, the lifeblood of their agriculture and indeed, the nation entire. Marking the end of drought, this flood shortly followed the arrival of desert lions at the river. The lions had come to the river out of need, driven by the drought of the desert at that time, but this was a welcome sign that the flood was on its way, and this connection was welcomed by the Egyptians, who honoured the lion with festivals, and even today many statues of lions can be found along the course of the Nile River, proof of the reverence with which the ancient Egyptians regarded the desert lions.
It’s thought that the lion-headed fountains commonly designed by Greek and Roman architects equally symbolized the life-giving waters released by the sun’s presence in Leo.
Many stories are associated with Leo the Lion. Perhaps the best known tales feature Hercules’ first labour and the Nemean Lion.
This terrifying lion lived in a cave in Nemea in the south-west of Corinth. It was killing and eating the locals, and no-one could kill it because its skin could not be pierced by any weapons. Hercules surprised the lion in its cave and strangled it, and then rather disrespectfully, if pragmatically, skinned the lion with its own claws, and wore its skin as a cloak, making himself even more ferocious in appearance, as well as presumably, and even more importantly, arrow-proof.
The Astrology of Leo
This fixed sign is known for its pride, ambition and determination, warmth and generosity of spirit, but above all, Leo is known for bravery. Leo is represented in the Tarot by the “Strength” card, representing the divine expression of physical, mental, and emotional fortitude, which is a virtue.
Courage takes many forms. Active bravery is about proceeding in the face of fear, “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” And then there is the courage to endure, the discipline of damage limitation, and the fortitude that quietly says to itself, “tomorrow I will try again”.
Eternal optimists, tough sometimes with a dark streak, Leos can be their own worst enemy; loud, reckless, self-centred, headstrong and careless, and for these reasons, unless they can learn greater patience, consideration and self-control, they are not necessarily always as lucky in life as their generous nature deserves.
Leo is both the sign of childhood, and childhood’s end.
Dandy Lion’s greying mane
Alight on chance
To lionize again