Total Leo Solar Eclipse

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Total Solar Eclipse of 11 August 1999, member 21 of Saros series 145, by Luc Viatour

NOTE: This post has the unique distinction of being co-written in collaboration with astrologer June Rose Trimbach.  We will be co-teaching classes together in the coming season, and as we were already communicating a lot about our shared ideas regarding this Total Solar Eclipse, it seemed like a fitting opportunity to introduce our coming work together.  On October 29 we will be co-teaching a class at the Portland School of Astrology entitled The Daimon: The Guiding Spirit of Astrology.  We are also currently developing a series of introductory astrology webinar classes we will be teaching in the coming months.  There is not yet a planned start date for the webinar series as we are still putting material together, but I will let you know as soon as we have clear dates set up.  Feel free to send me an email if you are interested in learning astrology from us through the webinar medium, and I can answer any questions you may have about them.

Solar Eclipse in Leo

Black as the night from which the light of stars emerge, black as the earth full of death that produces life. Black as the feathers of crows that soar through space, black as the darkness that nurtures recovery. The blackness of a total solar eclipse in which the light of our Sun is blocked takes us into the mysterious void from which all of our known universes are created. In the blackness we may rediscover our own source of primordial creativity from within, as well as realize the illusory nature of a reality we previously believed in.

In the time leading up to this eclipse, the Sun is shining through its home sign of the Lion, the sign of strength of heart and leadership. The light of the Sun brings exposure and purification; the true hearts of humans are exposed. As the Moon moves in front of the Sun, a shadow is cast, and a shadow is revealed. While the shadow of leadership and courage is exposed, it is also a portal for deeper understanding of our own hearts, our own courage to lead and to shine. We learn the deeper motivations for these goals, and the potential wounding therein.

Astrologer Joe Landwehr teaches that in a Solar Eclipse the creative dynamic potential is eclipsed by the emotional needs of the Soul. The needs of the Soul can be largely irrational, in that we can be pulled to act in ways that one wouldn’t always choose.  Joe has taught that the Soul sometimes drags our unwilling selves into tough places, but places that we need to be. These irrational Soul-needs are like a deep well of insight into the meaning of our lives that when we ignore, come back to haunt us. This means that if our Soul is drawn to leadership, acts of courage or greater emanation of the heart, we may have to face these parts of ourselves now.  How can we show up to these potentially hidden parts? The eclipse can reveal these parts, but they may not look rational or even safe: how can we honor the parts of ourselves that have remained in the dark?

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from the Clavis Artis

An eclipse is also known as a great dragon showing itself, devouring the Sun:  terrible and mystical and wise. This eclipse takes place on the north node or the head of the dragon. This head is desirous, consuming and wishes to devour, but devour what?  There is potential available amid the surrounding astrological transits to cast off old inner restrictions in order to access greater currents of vitality to not only express in the world, but also take the responsibility to manage with greater integrity.  Yet when we speak of stepping into greater empowerment and claiming greater levels of Leonine power, we must also question and reflect upon the shadow cast by ambition.  As the Leo Sun turns black, the disappearance and reappearance of light can be a portal through which we may gain greater awareness for how to live a more empowered life; one that works in collaboration with the power of others, rather than claims power over others.  The lion is strongest when it realizes it is connected to the natural energetic heart of its community, rather than being the heart itself; love is found in the space in between people.

New forms enter our lives during eclipses as old forms exit, and the quality of what comes in and out can feel both exciting and scary.  Though eclipses have a long association in the astrological tradition with difficult, even disastrous events, they have also proven to mark significant thresholds of more fulfilling fortune.  Professor Qiguang Zhao wrote a beautiful book on dragons entitled A Study of Dragons, East and West in which he explored how the dragons of ancient cultures in the East (East Asia) that were more apocalyptic and associated with heaven came to be associated in the West (Middle East and Europe) as a demonic death symbol linked to “the world of nightmare and the scapegoat, of bondage, pain, and confusion” (p. 61).  Zhao shared the following text from Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West that shows the transcendent symbolism of dragons, the creatures most associated with eclipses:

Soaring and transforming,
Encircling clouds and mists,
Like suspending white hooks their claws let fall,
Like bright mirrors the silver scales shine.
Whiskers flap like white silk, each stand’s visible,
Horns rise imposingly, each prong is clear
Those rugged foreheads;
Those bright round eyes.
The Dragons, hidden or seen, can’t be fathomed;
The Dragons, flying or flitting, can’t be described.
If you pray for rain, rain comes instantly;
If you ask for clear sky, you have it at once.
These, only these, are the true dragon forms.
Most dignified and holy,
As a good omen, their aura surrounds the palace profusely.

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7 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 3 Decan

In the days leading up to the eclipse, many of us find ourselves consuming images of banners, bravado and martial violence. These are themes that are presented by the third decan of Leo where the eclipse takes place, a decan associated with the Seven of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image of the third decan is seen by Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces as an image of “The Banner.” It is ruled by Mars, the planet of courage, heroic acts and martial combat. These are clues to what the dragon head of the eclipse might be seeking: glory, a cause to fight for. This is perhaps what we are all seeking right now. And now is a time to get in touch with our personal banners. What do we stand for and why?

Mars not only rules the third face of Leo where the eclipse occurs, Mars is also present within the third decan of Leo giving it amplified power.  In addition, the eclipse occurs within the Egyptian bounds of Mars, and Mars is applying to a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, the head of the dragon.  Mars is on the threshold of leaving combustion with the Sun at the time of the eclipse, but is still invisible under the beams of the Sun emerging from its long journey through the underworld (though perhaps the total darkness of the eclipse may allow for Mars to become temporarily visible).  Although we have a Mars recently reborn from its union with the Sun, it still carries within it the impact of past wounds from previous cycles.  We can feel the determination of Mars in the image of the Seven of Wands card, in which a warrior is fighting against an onslaught from an angry mob.  Mars asks us what ideals, principles, and other forms of personal terrain are worth fighting to protect at all cost.

The Total Leo Solar Eclipse has been named “The Great American Eclipse” as the path of the dragon enters the continental United States in Oregon and exits in South Carolina.  In the time leading up to the eclipse, heated conflict has erupted in the United States over the banner fought under by the Confederate army in the Civil War.  Notably Charleston, South Carolina is on the path of the eclipse dragon as it exits the continent, as Charleston is the location of the first shots fired in the Civil War as well as the location of the horrific murder of African American church goers in June 2015 by white supremacist Dylan Rooff, a tragedy that reignited debate over the presence of Confederate flags and monuments across the United States.

Even as we see images of the shadow of the banner, the question we may ask is if we can devour the banner itself. Can we devour the face of evil so that it is banned from the earth, or will that only perpetuate more violence? The head of a dragon in a realm of such proud martial power is also evocative as the ultimate protector, the courageous warrior willing to give their own life in order to protect life.  Martial strength may be utilized to resist forces of hate and as stated in the Four-Fold Way by Angeles Arriens, “by staying in our power, by showing up and choosing to be present, by extending honor and respect, and by being responsible and accountable.”

To know the absolute is to be tolerant.
What is tolerant becomes impartial;
What is impartial becomes powerful;
What is powerful becomes natural;
What is natural becomes Tao.

— Lao Tzu, quoted from R.L. Wing’s translation, The Tao of Power

total solar eclipse astronomy

by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot (1882)

As the path of the Total Solar Eclipses travels from coast to coast across the United States, its relevant to delve deeper into the country’s astrological context.  The astrology chart most often used by astrologers relates to the date of the Declaration of Independence, and though different versions exist they all involve the Moon in Aquarius, the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, and the North Node of the Moon in Leo.  Thus the United States is experiencing the karma of a nodal return and eclipses in the same signs as occurred during the time of its Declaration of Independence.  Part of the country’s karma involves the fact the same people who crafted its language of liberation also owned slaves, and the development of its culture coincided with attempts to forcibly remove the culture of the land’s indigenous population.

The shadow of hatred and fear showed itself in Charlottesville, Virginia on a weekend in between two eclipses under a fiery celestial triangle. It was met with courage. There is an opportunity now to join this fight that was started as far back as our mind will take us. This fight has had many iterations throughout time, while simultaneously it is a fight felt deeply and personally all around our planet. But to join it lightly without knowledge of the shadowy realm this fight takes place in, would be unwise.  The opening of a true heart of courage is possible here, a courage based on love and camaraderie. Is it possible even in evil actions, this is what is sought? The ghosts of the past are imminent in the story of America and its present begs for action and healing.

The shadows of Leo and Mars have been problematic in these wounds; the elite white class wrote the constitution for themselves and pitted the poor whites and slaves against each other; a reality we are still seeing. The infrastructure and laws of our country (Saturn) have kept people in chains through Jim Crow laws, the prison industrial complex, and other forms of institutional oppression. Curses economic, societal and emotional hold us back from sharing love with each other, yet we find anecdotes of that very love being shared liberally. The story of fear is not the only story, and we must connect with each other in good ways to get through this. How have the structures of the past and present limited your expression of love, and is there an opportunity of liberation now?

The eclipse activates a grand fire trine with Saturn and Uranus. The disruption of past structures and creative ways of making new ones are prominent themes right now. Uranus is in an exact trine with the Solar Eclipse, making creativity and the unleashing of potential a huge catalyst for change. Uranus is also the story of Prometheus, the one who stole the Fire of the Gods and gave it to humanity.  Western astrologers tend to glorify the myth of Prometheus, yet other interpretations reveal it to be a cautionary tale of hubris and desire to wield the power of gods.  Fascinatingly, the current transit of Uranus in Aries forms a square to the natal placement of Pluto in Capricorn in the chart of the Declaration of Independence. The Pluto of the U.S. is a storehouse of subterranean power and wealth, ruled by Saturn who now finds itself in Pluto’s twelfth house of secrets and hidden potential. The light and shadow of this eclipse is revealing deep secrets, yet there is an even deeper sense of upheaval. In the next five years the U.S. will have its first Pluto return, a transit that can transform, empower or dismantle altogether.

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Ouroborus by Liv Rainey-Smith

Love is also a force of light and nurture that liberates you to inhabit to the full your own difference.  There should be no imitation of each other.  No need to be defensive or protective in each other’s presence.  Love should encourage and free you fully into your full potential.

— John O’Donahue from Anam Cara:  A Book of Celtic Wisdom

So what is there to do in this time of upheaval? Make a choice to know the shadows of your own heart; true courage comes from love. The shadows of the past are cropping up, in our nations, in ourselves. One power of Leo is to lead by example; to bring an open heart to everything you do. Remain open to changing the structure of your life based on the needs of the Soul. Consider your personal banner: what would you be sure enough to proclaim to the world upon an inspection of the shadow and a heart centered reflection?

What will burn in the light of day as it is revealed, what will take form in our world and what will leave? The shadow is only something to be feared when it is not addressed. We can learn and heal from the scared parts of ourselves, and generally this is what eclipses are about. There is also a question of how we can move in the world. Can we put something into the world that is authentic? Can our radiant heart find liberation and the structure to express itself more truly and freely? Even as actions from wounding inflict more wounding during this eclipse period, can we stand from a place of empowerment and love for the world?

Written by Gray Crawford and June Rose Trimbach

References

Arriens, Angeles. (1993). The Four-Fold Way:  Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary. Harper Collins.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

O’Donahue, John. (1997). Anam Cara:  A Book of Celtic Wisdom.  Harper Perennial.

Zhao, Qiguang. (1992). A Study of Dragons, East and West.  Peter Lang Publishing.

 

 

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Leo Lunar Eclipse

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Lunar Reflection by Remedios Varo

Lunar Eclipse in Leo

Life constantly brings change, yet eclipses always demarcate a period of accelerated change with synchronous endings and beginnings.  New relationships, attractions, experiences, and work opportunities appear seemingly out of nowhere with full force of manifestation, surprising us with their dramatic entrance into our surface reality.  Eclipses are also mysterious portals that hold profound shifts in the enfoldment of our destiny, as many of the changes signified by an eclipse are happening under the surface and not immediately observable in the surrounding period of the lunation.  We stand at the crossroads during eclipses bidding farewell to aspects of identity that can require grieving, while simultaneously welcoming exciting new experiences and relationships that need to be integrated into one’s life.

Lunar Eclipses occur when a Full Moon lines up with the degrees of the transiting North Node and South Node of the Moon.  The nodes of the Moon in this arrangement are symbolized by a great dragon that consumes our lights, since the Sun is overcome by shadow in a solar eclipse and the Moon is consumed with shadow during a lunar eclipse.  The dragon symbolism further links eclipses with the ouroboros imagery of a dragon consuming its own tail that has been used in Hermetic arts for ages.  The dragon devouring itself mirrors the dissolution of nature that leads to the arising of new forms.  In alchemical work the arts of separation and union tied to this imagery reflect the ability to purify material attachments.  When eclipses form in our heavens, the corresponding changes similarly lead us to release fixation on the elements of our life in need of letting go, while a burgeoning promise of new form coming together can be felt.

The Leo Lunar Eclipse on 10 February 2017 is the first of a series to occur in the signs of Leo and Aquarius that will extend until January 2019.   During a lunar eclipse the Sun casts a shadow of our Earth upon the face of the Moon, turning it blood red during a total lunar eclipse.  This first Leo Lunar Eclipse is not total, but is instead classified as penumbral.  This stems from the fact that although the eclipse is fairly close to the North Node of the Moon, the eclipse is happening at 23º Leo while the North Node of the Moon is at the beginning of Virgo. The visual effect is that the shadow cast by the Earth onto the Moon by our Sun is not going to cover Luna in a total red glow, instead only projecting a diffuse outer shadow on the Moon that will be faintly noticeable.

The meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon. Dane Rudhyar viewed this solar shadow as symbolizing the present overcoming the past, as our solar awareness and purpose veils the lunar impact of past conditioning on our present consciousness. Linking the Moon to what we carry with us in our body and mind, these memories of the past can be released to allow for the emergence of new ways of being embodied in the moment. Since the Leo Lunar Eclipse is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, while our fiery Sun is burning  on the side of the South Node of the Moon, it corresponds that growth will come from the resolution and release of old karma. The influence of Leo furthermore brings an electrifying jolt of fiery creativity, actualization, and instinctual self assertion into whatever areas of our life the eclipse impacts through its aspects to our astrology charts.

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Toward the Tower (1961) by Remedios Varo

The diffuse penumbral shadow projected on the Moon signifies that while the eclipse heralds the eventual shift of the lunar nodes into Aquarius and Leo months from now, our work with the nodes in Pisces and Virgo is not yet complete.  The Leo Lunar Eclipse and the Pisces Solar Eclipse coming on February 26 are the final two eclipses to occur with the South Node of the Moon in Pisces.  As a result there will be an immense bursting of collective illusions forcing humanity to become wide awake to the discrepancy between fantasy and bare boned reality.  Eclipses have been occurring in Pisces and Virgo since the first Pisces Solar Eclipse in the series that occurred on 20 March 2015.  Idealized illusions and ghastly fears of the past have haunted collective events like ghosts weighed down by ball and chain, but in the storm of these final eclipses the chains of bondage will be blown open, releasing the delusive apparitions for all to see clearly.  The North Node of the Moon in Virgo continues to call us to embrace the moment with full awareness of everything occurring, whether we feel attraction or repulsion, and to discern choices that will bring greater fulfillment through service to the greater good.

The activation of Aquarius and Leo by the eclipse while the lunar nodes remain in Pisces and Virgo bring up innumerable issues concerning the current state of being for humanity within the complex networks of global civilization it has created.  While the archetypes of Pisces and Virgo can involve a sense of guilt over how our actions impact others, the shift of the nodes into Aquarius and Leo bring awareness to how we have been modifying our self expression to fit into group and societal norms.  The North Node of the Moon activated by Leo brings more emphasis to creative actualization and pursuing desires that make one feel viscerally alive, rather than restraining oneself.  Leo is also a loyal, heartfelt sign of solar power that will protect loved ones and fight for what it believes is good and noble.  The Leo Lunar Eclipse is ideal for creative collaborations in art and activism and for embodying greater passion for life in all mundane responsibilities.  Six months from now we will experience a second set of eclipses in Aquarius and Leo with the lunar nodes also in Aquarius and Leo, and so the storylines being set in motion now will experience further dramatic developments at that time.

The Leo Lunar Eclipse is especially potent because the opposition between the Leo Moon and Aquarius Sun crosses over the opposition between Uranus in Aries and Jupiter retrograde in Libra so that both ends of the oppositions form a harmonious sextile and trine to one another.  Uranus in Aries is sextile the Sun and trine the Moon, while Jupiter is trine the Sun and sextile the Moon.    As a result the tension between the Sun and Moon as well as Uranus and Jupiter have mediating aspects of stability that can help open awareness to opportunities that go beyond previously defined boundaries, and further support taking direct action with whatever surrounding resources are available to make inspiring visions and ideas take form.  The eclipse bears gifts for those willing to work with dedication and persistence, as sudden insights and revelations will emerge in the process once a commitment to sustaining effort has been achieved.

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Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle (1961) by Remedios Varo

Saturn in Sagittarius also holds harmonious aspects within the eclipse, as it is trine to Uranus and the Moon, sextile to Jupiter and the Sun.  Although Saturn has separated from its square aspect with Neptune that dominated 2016, its effect in the collective is still felt through the alternative interpretations of reality the masses are fighting over, with people struggling to recognize the difference between the factual and the imaginal.  Neptune in Pisces remains an influence on the eclipse through being widely conjunct the South Node of the Moon, as well as through connecting with Uranus in Aries through the shadowy aspect of contra-antiscia that was also in effect throughout 2016.  As a result one can draw a triangle with fire connecting Saturn with Uranus and the Leo Lunar Eclipse, with Neptune claiming a strong presence in the shadows cast by the flowing, harmonious exchange of fire.

For anyone with angles (ascendant, midheaven . . .), planets, or other key aspects of their chart in the final decan of the fire signs (20 – 30º of Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius), the Leo Lunar Eclipse marks the point in time in which many karmic knots within life will begin to become unravelled with the gravity of necessary fate.  As the strands formerly held tight release, potential arises to weave the threads back together into a more colorful, vivacious form that can be embodied with self confidence and courage.  As a lot can change rapidly in the wake of eclipses, its important to keep in mind what one can control and what one has to surrender to not being able to control.  The raging fire contained within the Leo Lunar Eclipse can be channeled with purpose and discipline into strategic directions that can create opportunities to express inspiration, spirit, and passion.   Within the innumerable global conflicts occurring, anger can become so overwhelming that it debilitates one’s ability to make healthy choices.  Yet an inner inferno can also be injected into productive actions intent on building worthy creative works and solidifying support for both inner desires and social causes aiding others.

Mars in Aries is hosting both Venus and Uranus in his domain, applying toward a square with Pluto at the eclipse.  As the lunar eclipse releases and we head toward the darkness of the coming Solar Eclipse in Pisces, Mars in Aries will assertively blow up the tensions between Pluto, Jupiter, and Uranus, in particular re-triggering the square between Pluto and Uranus that dominated astrology between 2011 and 2015.   The many heated global conflicts already occurring will reach new levels of discord as Mars burns his way across the space of the Ram, some unavoidable whereas others will require discernment regarding which ones to engage in with personal energy.  Collectively we can all observe how many traditional structures we had gotten used to counting on have been crumbling apart through the years of the square between Pluto and Uranus-  the current transit of Mars in Aries will amplify the dismantling.  In the personal realm, the highly catalyzed and empowered Mars is available to support both well structured work opportunities as well as taking risks in life toward goals one previously did not believe possible to achieve.  Mars in Aries is also willing to fight to defend loved ones, and so adds to the fiery atmosphere of the eclipse in which combatants may be drawn into conflict over desire to protect whatever is held dear by the heart.

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The Escape (1961) by Remedios Varo

In the nights surrounding the eclipse, Venus can be seen in all of her majesty burning brightly next to Mars in Aries.  Venus is known as being in her detriment in Aries, a misunderstood classification that does not mean Venus is weak, but does mean she is away from her own home in the place of Mars.  Since Mars is close by in his own home, the Venus Evening Star is full of fiery martial force and passion yearning to be expressed with direct ardor.  Potent creative collaborations are possible with resonant partners able to harmoniously receive and reciprocate.   In relationships that have felt stuck or weighed down by unresolved issues, the martial combination of Venus and Mars in Aries can create conflicts that dislodge blockages and open up opportunities to mediate solutions through direct communication.  As Venus is now within the shadow of her forthcoming Venus retrograde that will begin on March 4, paying attention to arising concerns within relationships and addressing divisions between the needs of the self and others will help prepare us for the coming relational changes when Venus stations and turns away from Mars in retrograde motion.

While Venus and Mars are shining bright in the transfiguration of twilight, Mercury is illuminating the shift of hues at dawn as a Morning Star.  Mercury in Aquarius is forming a harmonious sextile with Venus at the eclipse, and as the forthcoming lunar cycle wanes Mercury will progress into an additional supportive sextile with Mars in Aries.  Mercury in Aquarius can bridge divides between the formerly known and the unknown on the horizon, helping to facilitate initiation of inventive visions for the future.  Mercury in Aquarius is a blessing with regard to the fiery emphasis of the eclipse as it can help with listening to the clamor of dissenting opinions and devising ways to navigate conflicts while staying true to personal integrity and principles.  In collaboration with partners or within group dynamics, Mercury in Aquarius further supports attuning to the underlying issues in need of attention in order to bring about a productive outcome.  The accord between Mercury, Venus, and Mars adds to the innovative and creative potency available to access within the Leo Lunar Eclipse.

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7 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 3 Decan

The Lunar Eclipse illuminates the third face of Leo associated with the Seven of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image a warrior is bravely fighting for his life, using his wand to fight off the onrush of six attacking wands. He is standing on a cliff in a precarious position, yet his stance and face suggests someone putting his whole being into his struggle with extraordinary determination.  The image evokes the necessity of standing one’s ground against an onslaught from the masses or an angry mob, bringing the idea of what ideals, principles, and other forms of personal terrain are worth fighting to protect at all cost.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Banner” to the third face of Leo, for a banner “bearing the name of Truth, Justice or Beauty” unfurled symbolizes the sort of inspirational principle which transcends egoic concerns and animates a “spiritualization of the solar fire present in the Lion’s sign.”  To Coppock it is the “unconquerable heart” which is the source of the third face of Leo’s power, as “what resides in the heart is untouchable, invincible” and most radiant when enlivened with passionate spirit.  Coppock described the power of the third decan of Leo as a steadfast courage that rises to combat outside forces and protect beloved realms against external and internal threats, especially when resources are low and the odds are stacked against success.  Though Coppock praised “the solar-martial fire that moves broken limbs” found in the third face of Leo, he also warned:

Like any form of fire, divine or otherwise, there is danger. Though belief in a principle may give one the strength to hold on while all hope is lost, it is no guarantee that one’s cause is right. While this face may abound with images of noble heroes defending the right, just as many tyrants grace its halls, unwilling to yield their thrones, no matter the human cost.

Mars rules the third face of Leo, and Mars is extremely strong at the eclipse in its own sign of Aries and co-present with both Venus and Uranus. The third decan of Leo is impacted in an extraordinary manner in 2017 by eclipses, for there will be an incredibly intense Solar Eclipse in the third face of Leo coming in August 2017.  As a result the lessons we learn regarding the themes of the third decan of Leo now will return to us tenfold later in August to further wrestle with.  The overused adage of fighting fire with fire brings the question of how much conflict and destruction are worth inflicting over the issues we feel enlivened to defend and battle over.  While the power of our animated heart can lead us to resiliently contend and combat threatening forces beyond the point of exhaustion, it will also be worthwhile to discern our bodily limits and when rest and caregiving of our incarnated form is necessary.  The many fiery collective conflicts that will arise in 2017 are heralded by this first Lunar Eclipse in Leo, so gaining clarity over what is worth fighting for as well as how to best nourish and sustain our inner fire and fleshy form will be essential.

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.