From the emotional depths of Cardinal Water Cancer season, Leo rises up and shines forth from the steady, brilliant fire of the heart. Where Cancer is connected to the belly and the breasts, the heart and the spine correspond to Leo. Firmly rooted in the element of Fixed Fire, Le Coeur de Lion - the heart of the Lion - is Leo’s astrological avatar. The Lion symbolizes the courageous warrior of love whose real strength comes from a positive attitude and an open heart. It communicates the truth of a love that can only be illuminated by the light of kindness, compassion, hope and wonder. With the Sun as its planetary guide and with Leo ruling the 5th house of passion, creativity and self-expression, this season is the perfect time to explore our own desires and our own creative impulses. How we can best express ourselves? How we can shine our own incandescent light? How can we make the most of the long summer days in service to joy? In Leo season, we are invited to explore these questions as we bask in the fabulous flames of Fire.
Fire initiates the astrological year (Cardinal Fire in Aries) and is linked to inspiration, spiritual awakenings and new beginnings. It has long been considered to be the great protector, the original source of light in the dark. Fire cleanses away the dross so that the radiant beauty of the heart can magnify its capacity for love. Wielding its element of light, Fire helps us to see all aspects of our lives more clearly. And Leo season is ruled by the most fiery form of all - the Sun. Leo arrives in the teeth of summer, when the temperatures rise. The Sun blazes down upon the crops and all living beings as it transports its life-force to the Earth. Everything in our solar system revolves around the Sun, the central source without which we would have no world. It is often said that people born under the sign of the Lion like to live in the spotlight at the center of attention and as the magnetic core that draws others toward them. They often exude a determined will, along with an enthusiasm and confidence that comes from an awakened connection to their own benevolent heart as well as to the abundance of the season itself.
While there may be some validity to this traditional perception of Leos, when you reflect upon the Lion through the lens of the tarot and perceive it in the form of the Strength card (ruled by the Fixed Fire of Leo and the Sun), what it means to be a Leo and what Leo season embodies increases exponentially. In the Strength card, the Lion represents a gentle kind of fortitude and a quiet type of power that comes from its commitment to a heart-centered approach to life. In Strength and in Leo season, we are invited to open our hearts, to find within a faith in ourselves that can expand to include a faith in all beings. In this way, Leos and Leo season embody a profound generosity of spirit, one that actually wants everyone to live in the light.
In The SWT, the Suit of Fire is the great Transformer. Fire or Tejas (which translates to “illumination” and “fire” in Sanskrit) alchemizes matter to transfigure it from one form to another. The branch is burned and turns to ash. The fire is lit and its heat transforms the room. The candle ignites and darkness turns to light. Within the Suit of Fire and within the season of the Lion, we can begin to access the dynamism of our courageous will along with our ability to transform, through intentional action, our experiences on this Earth. Fire exemplifies the forces of creation as well as the forces of destruction. During Leo season, we are reminded that we can always access these energies. When we can be introspective about what in our lives needs to be burned away to reveal the precious essence of our souls, we can generate a life filled with passion and purpose, one that is powered by generosity and gratitude. The alchemy of generosity can only happen when we feel stable and supported, when we can find joy in the simple gifts that each day brings and when we recognize that we already have within us everything that we need.
During Leo season, we are invited to practice being more generous with ourselves, to shine a light on all the parts that make up who we are and to accept through self-reflection and self-acceptance both the shadow and the light. It takes a Lion's courage to be vulnerable in this way, to be radically honest with oneself in a world that often seems to prefer illusions to the complex beauty of reality. When we can acknowledge all our sacred parts, we can begin to understand what supports us and what no longer serves. We can begin to let go and make more space for the light to shine.
- Tarot Cards to work with:
- V The Teacher (aka The Hierophant): as the 5th sign in the astrological year, contemplate how Leo season informs the 5th card in the Major Arcana. How can The Teacher guide you towards a deeper understanding of the transformative power of knowledge? The Teacher wants you to reflect on what you know and on what you have been taught. Find the courage to question. Find the courage to trust your own inner wisdom and let it light the way.
- VIII Strength: ruled by Leo and governed by the Sun, the Strength card encourages you to have faith in yourself. Gaze within the sacred chambers of the heart to find the courage that it takes to live a life of kindness, generosity and compassion.
- XVI The Burn (aka The Tower): one of the 5 Major Cards that correspond with the element of Fire, The Burn appears when you are ready to burn away all that masks your inner radiance, the brilliant light of your heart.
- XIX The Sun: holds within it the essence of life, the force of creativity, the benediction of a new day. Let the light of the Sun fill you with the joy of new beginnings and the power that you have to choose how you meet each moment of your life.
- The Suit of Fire: The Transformer
- Light a favorite candle to bring in the light. Gaze into the light and let gratitude fill your heart.
- Yoga Pose for Leo Season: Lion’s Pose (Simhasana):
In this posture, you can experience the benefits of combining a physical pose with a very specific breath practice that both cleanses, energizes and strengthens the body.
1 - Come to your knees on a blanket or a yoga mat for support, with knees and ankles together and soles of the feet facing up, big toes touching. This is Thunderbolt or Diamond Pose (Vajrasana).
2 - Exhale and lower your seat to your heels, thighs resting on your calves. If you feel discomfort here, you can place a rolled-up towel behind your knees or place a yoga block horizontally between your feet to support your weight. If the props don’t alleviate your discomfort, the breathwork for this posture can also be done sitting in a comfortable position on the ground or in a chair.
3 - Place your hands on your thighs and take a few breaths here, shifting your pelvis until you feel comfortable.
4 - On an exhale, draw your navel to your spine as you press your tailbone towards the Earth. Let your inhale draw the crown of your head up, chin parallel to the ground, eyes gazing forward.
5 - When you feel stable, steady and ready, inhale deeply through your nose. Open your mouth as wide as you are able, stick out your tongue as far as possible and exhale the breath as powerfully as you can. At the same time, draw your eyes up towards the center of your forehead, the space of intuition and vision. Your exhalation should sound like “Haaaaa.” This forceful exhalation can best be accomplished by deeply contracting your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. You can also press your hands into your thighs and lift your seat off of your heels as you release your breath.
6 - Once you have completely released your breath, soften your face and relax your body. Sit back on your heels as you inhale.
7 - Repeat Stage 5 for a total of three rounds. This pose not only assists with digestive cleansing and overall physical well-being, but it also serves to clear and strengthen the muscles of the throat so that you can speak your truth more effectively.
- Poem for Leo Season: to be read out loud to alchemize the breath with the power of language to transform:
“My Brilliant Image”
translated by Daniel Landinsky
One day the sun admitted,
I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence (Tej/Fire)
That has cast my brilliant image!
I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in the darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!
- Song for Leo Season: “Sit Around the Fire” by Jon Hopkins, Ram Dass & East Forest