The Full Moon in Leo on January 23, 2016 illuminates the meaning we have received from Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and Aquarius, as Mercury will be stationing while conjoining Pluto. This further means that Mercury retrograde is stationing in range of a square with Uranus in Aries, and so there is something to unearth that speaks of where you sit within the great changes that have swept across our planet in the past five years or so of the Uranus and Pluto square. In this present moment, with a Full Moon ripening in the sign of the Lion, it is the beast within that clamors for beauty and the creation of a life that brings passion and a sense of validation. This is a Full Moon in the home of the Sun, with the Sun in Aquarius connecting to the human ability to detach from the dominant narratives running through the mainstream in order to liberate and enable the mind to conceive thoughts free of the systemic static of the status quo. The old constellation image of the Water Bearer associated with Aquarius brings to mind its purifying potential impact when activated, and when the Moon waxes full in its polarity sign of Leo it is the essential force of our burning heart within and all we desire to create that can revivify one’s being.
Mercury is always active and mentally stimulating when retrograde, but since this current Mercury retrograde began in Aquarius in square to Mars in Scorpio, and ends now in Capricorn conjoining Pluto and in square to Uranus, the effect has brought waves of overwhelming forces to mediate. Many of you reading this no doubt have had to face some of your deepest fears over the past weeks of this Mercury retrograde, as the landscape of our lives has been in process of being fundamentally altered. The intensity continues as the Full Moon in Leo is also occurring in range of a square to Mars in Scorpio, and as the Moon begins to wane while still in its full phase it will apply to an exact square with Mars. These aspects will catalyze desire and bring to mind and body what we want at a core level but have been resisting or felt blocked from manifesting. If the desire does not seem to be available now, or great obstacles appear to be in the way, it will be far more fruitful to utilize the will force of Mars to work toward the desire rather than erupting with anger or disintegrating with futility.
While Mars is in square to the Full Moon, it is coming into range of a sextile with the conjunction between Pluto and Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and is also closely conjoining Juno in Scorpio. In the light of this Full Moon one’s relationship needs can be more fully felt, a vision of what one wants in partnership formed in the mind with passionate force. This does not mean that our current circumstances hold the possibility of uniting now with the ideal partner, only that the vision brings the potential to ultimately experience the union. If you are in relationship at this time, this Full Moon will illuminate the unspoken as much as the spoken and whatever has not yet been revealed during this Mercury retrograde will now come into sharp awareness for processing. While conflict could erupt if communication comes from a place of wounding, there is at the same time potential for healing and deep processing of the underlying forces that have been operating between partners.
The Mercury and Pluto conjunction will be simmering through the rest of January, erupting at times through the surface facades of daily interactions. Mercury will remain within a degree or two of Pluto into the first week of February, and around the time of the waning last quarter Moon of this lunar cycle Mercury will move direct into another conjunction with Pluto and square with Uranus. There is also an added component that Vesta is conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of the Full Moon, and so also in square to the conjunction of Pluto with Mercury retrograde. With these aspects the mind can now penetrate to the bottom line dynamics of every situation encountered, and feelings previously buried within will emerge. This is not a time to fear, however, as whatever thoughts and feelings arrive will be absolutely essential to process, heal, and work with in the unknown future to come. As this Full Moon illuminates what we want to create, use this time with Pluto united with Mercury to explore the depths of the desires emerging to gain greater clarity of the specific aspects and details to center plans around.
The Full Moon in Leo also illuminates the recent ingress of Venus into Capricorn. As the Moon wanes into the forthcoming New Moon in Aquarius in early February, Venus will move across Capricorn into a conjunction with Mercury and Pluto. This further re-emphasizes whatever feelings and needs we have resisted expressing due to fear of judgment or rejection- if this has been going on so long that these needs have taken on a monstrous proportion, these aspects support gaining awareness and uncovering the underlying reasons these needs became distorted across time. For example, we may gain new insight into the imprinting we received from our parents and early development in the society we were born into, leading to the development of our current self-image. In the waning lunar cycle following this Full Moon in Leo, we can restructure our inner and outer relationships to be in greater alignment with our true emotions and needs.
While Mercury is conjoining Pluto over the next week or two, Mercury is also receiving Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo through a trine. The more we do the deep Mercury-Pluto work of digging into our depths and avoiding denial and escapist pursuits, the more we access the Jupiter-North Node capacity to fully enter the present moment of our material realm and shift life events into a new trajectory in greater alignment with core values and needs. This is a potent aspect for visioning not only the extraordinary life we dream of living, but discerning the choices available to us now that will take us in this direction. This is a time to get out of your habitual mind as much as possible and be truly present, embracing every opportunity to look at things differently than ever before.
Further supporting finding new solutions and approaches is a trine between Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries that is now closer in orb than the square between Saturn with Neptune in Pisces. However, in reality these two very different aspects to transiting Saturn are happening simultaneously, and so radical thoughts and insights will be arising in an atmosphere that will also find us facing disillusionment and skepticism over what aspects of our dreams can manifest in reality. The unifying principle to connect with the highest potential of both of these transits to Saturn is to not hold back and instead to allow yourself to envision the life you want to live free of the ways you have restricted or repressed yourself previously. These aspects to Saturn in Sagittarius will be occurring throughout this next year, and so this Leo Full Moon is an opportune time to allow yourself to unleash your imagination and create grand goals to work toward.
Leo I Decan
The Full Moon falls in the first face of Leo, ruled by Saturn and associated with the 5 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In tarot the 5 of Wands card is typically associated with entering into conflict and strife, being confronted and needing to fight to assert oneself, stand one’s ground, or achieve a desired, prominent position. Astrologer Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo which can be connected to the imagery of the 5 of Wands through the five youth battling for dominance, attention, or the spotlight, the starring role. Coppock wrote that the “power of this decan is to focus a mass of attention on one point or person” (p. 122), and analyzed that the decan’s rulership by Saturn signifies the ability to direct the spotlight in order to both reveal as well as conceal, binding the attention, and projection, of an audience to one’s performing image. In addition to “The Spotlight,” Coppock also described the significance of the “magical weapon” of the “Mask” to the power found in the first face of Leo:
The mask focuses the wearer’s attention on those aspects of their being which are in harmony with the mask’s appearances and enhances one’s ability to express them. The mask serves a similar function with onlookers- it focuses their attention on certain qualities. The mask is thus the mystical nexus between all of the streams of attention in place . . .
It is interesting to note that the word for mask in Latin is “Persona.” “Persona” is used in modern English to denote a portion of the psyche, and is the root of the more common term “personality.” The “persona” does not describe the entire geography of the soul, instead, it describes the social role played by the person . . .
Thus the material of the psyche coalesces and then concretizes into the pattern necessary to function in a given role- the mask. An effective mask creates a nexus point which mediates inside and outside, self and other . . . Masks, like the spotlight which they are created to survive, are perilous tools, for as they are fed by attention they grow stronger, consuming more of the wearer’s energy. The mask/persona can thus go from being a useful tool to a powerful parasite, feeding off of and devouring their host.
–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces (p. 123)
The current lunar cycle waxing full in the first face of Leo began with a New Moon in Capricorn that brought news of the death of David Bowie. Bowie was born with a Moon in the first face of Leo at the same degree as this Full Moon, as well as a Saturn conjoining his Moon also in the first decan of Leo. Furthermore, David’s Moon is conjunct his descendant, meaning that his ascendant is aligned with the position of the Sun in Aquarius at the time of this Full Moon. While Bowie’s Moon conjoining Saturn and his descendant is fitting considering how much he thrived upon collaboration with other artists and worked hard to manifest his creativity until the very end of his life, his Moon is also exemplary of the meaning Austin Coppock brought to the first face of Leo in 36 Faces. As has been celebrated extensively this past week, Bowie was a master of creating masks through which to project his work, taking on a different public identity with each new creative departure. However, while David Bowie achieved great public acclaim through his talent for mask making, he also became a victim entrapped by the projections of his audience. As a result, he put his masked identities to death in the process of creating his new identities through which to manifest his art. It has been said by those who stood close to Bowie on stage that no one else possessed his talent for controlling and directing the attention of a massive audience from stage, and many who met him in person were overwhelmed with the charisma they felt in the meeting place of his gaze.
As David Bowie has been extensively celebrated in the time leading up to this Full Moon, he serves now as a marvelous model for this Full Moon in Leo through his capacity to imagine as well as embody an extraordinary life, vision as well as manifest radical artistic creations that break free from mainstream patterns and conditioning, and direct public attention to his work through the shaping of his public masks. With Saturn in Sagittarius in square to Neptune and in trine to Uranus, with Mercury retrograde conjoining Pluto while in square to Uranus, and with the square from Mars in Scorpio to this Full Moon in Leo, it is also important to realize the process Bowie went through in destroying each vehicle he created for himself once it no longer aligned with what he authentically desired to create. Similarly, this Full Moon will guide you to release any mask or persona you have developed to navigate the public sphere that no longer matches how you truly want to be. Within the catalytic atmosphere of the aspects surrounding this Leo Full Moon, there is a fertile matrix from which to embark in a direction more attuned with the passion arising from within.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.