Full Moon in Leo
Cast the emptiness from your arms
into the space we breathe: perhaps the birds
will sense the increase of air with more passionate flying.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, from the First Elegy of Duino Elegies translated by Edward Snow
The fiery Full Moon in Leo on January 28 will set events in motion that have been building in tension, enflaming the underlying astrological aspects that have correlated with volatile events as well as major changes in storylines during the past month. The Full Moon is separating from a catalyzing square aspect with Uranus in Taurus and applying to an opposition with Jupiter in Aquarius as well as a disruptive square aspect with Mars in Taurus. With the Moon fully illuminated in the zodiacal home of the Sun, find your center within the immense changes taking shape around and within you. Like a calyx protecting and nurturing the flaming colors of the bloom ready to open, within heart space you may deepen into the glowing meaning that is emerging from whatever difficulties you have been through recently.
There is stunning timing at play between the peak radiance of the Leo Full Moon with the synodic cycle of Jupiter, as Jupiter is at the very end of its solar cycle when the Moon forms its exact opposition with the Sun. Jupiter in Aquarius is in the underworld, experiencing both the putrefaction of its past cycle as well as the purifying regeneration of being reseeded by the Sun. Jupiter will be reanimated by its conjunction with the Sun about six and a half hours after the Moon forms its opposition with the Sun, giving an amplified charge to the inner illumination we may experience with Jupiter being reborn.
As Jupiter signifies hope, prosperity, and optimism, we may experience a renewal of faith regarding the path we are following into the unknown as Jupiter is revivified by the Sun. Jupiter will continue to be gestating the new meaning of its cycle while invisible until re-emerging into the visible light of its Morning Star phase in mid February. As Jupiter helps with creation of new growth and life, synthesizing meaning and wisdom from our experiences, so may we gain greater understanding of the shifting structures within personal and collective movements during the waning half of the present lunar cycle.
We are also at the beginning of a new Saturn cycle with the Sun, as the Sun formed a conjunction with Saturn in Aquarius on January 23. Thus the Leo Full Moon is also illuminating how the new solar seeds of Saturn are beginning to gestate, as Saturn continues to make its way through its invisible underworld phase. We are only at the beginning of Saturn’s journey through Aquarius that will stretch into March 2023, and so the Leo Full Moon is also shining a spotlight on the tests and challenges that Saturn will be bringing to our attention. The solutions to larger problems may not be ready to emerge, but the dazzling light of the lunation can help us realize what areas of life need our focus in the month ahead.
Moreover, since the Sun formed a square with Uranus in Taurus on January 26, the Full Moon will heighten awareness of whatever breaking points or innovative changes are emerging with the discordant square aspect between Saturn and Uranus that will be intensifying in the next few weeks. Since the Full Moon is separating from Saturn and Uranus and applying to Jupiter and Mars, the lunation is setting off all of the dynamics between Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars that have correlated with numerous protests and cacophonous volatility in global events during the past month.
Dawn Moon and Tumbling Snow (1889) by Kobayashi Heihachirō, from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
The catalyzing square between the Leo Full Moon with Mars in Taurus may bring stressful events or conflicts to mediate, but on a constructive level can also provide the impetus to make a needed change happen. If it’s necessary to create separation from a troubling source or inject motivated passion into making a certain movement happen, the triggering of Mars by the lunation can supply an amplified boost in the desired direction. It will also be important to pay attention to whatever symptoms of difficulty we experience, as they may indicate deeper issues below the surface of events that we will need to focus on to repair and heal in the month ahead.
While the Leo Full Moon will enflame the friction between Uranus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter, it also demarcates the beginning of Mars and Jupiter slowly moving away from the shattering square aspect taking shape between Saturn and Uranus. The first exact square between Saturn and Uranus will take place on February 17, and so from now until then the rupturing emanating from their clashing dynamic will continue to intensify. However, since Mars and Jupiter have recently set off the volatility building between Saturn and Uranus, we are already gaining a sense of what sorts of collective and personal disruptions are developing in correlation.
When the slow contractions of Saturn come into conflict with insistence from Uranus on rapid innovation, we need to come to terms with the elements of life we previously relied upon for security that need to be released to make space for the new forms emerging. We also need to keep in mind the longview that the radical shifts and breaking apart in personal foundations and systemic structures that will correlate with the tension between Saturn and Uranus will be taking place over the next two years. We are only at the beginning of the story, and since we know that Saturn and Uranus will be bringing irrevocable change we can begin to deepen into the internal shifts we are experiencing and make space to sort through the visions of expansive growth we receive. In the short term, there will be a need for rapid responses to address immediate concerns and cultivate the stability needed to navigate the liminal passage ahead.
Although not in an exact aspect with the Leo Full Moon, Mercury in Aquarius is a major underlying influence of the lunation due to it stationing retrograde two days later on January 30. As a result, the intensification of all things related to Mercury in the days following the Full Moon will necessitate being as mindful as possible and paying attention to whatever early signs are emerging regarding the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Aquarius. Mercury will be retrograde from January 30 until February 20, backtracking from 26°29’ Aquarius to 11°01 Aquarius. Mercury while retrograde will pull us back into the volatile tension between Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus and so there will be opportunities to continue to address whatever issues are emerging with the Leo Full Moon in the month ahead.
When Mercury stations to begin shifting retrograde it can be especially helpful to pay close attention to your dreams and any omens or synchronicities you experience in daily life that can help you better understand the message that Mercury will be delivering during its retrograde. This is especially the case now due to Neptune in Pisces also forming an exact square aspect with the transiting lunar nodes. The disorienting square between Neptune with the transiting lunar nodes can be confusing and make crisp clarity difficult to grasp, but can be powerful in terms of imaginal activation. While the conspiracy theories running rampant in collective events is one side of Neptune forming a square with the lunar nodes, at the same time in our personal life we may receive otherworldly insight that can unveil illusions we had been holding as well as important new perspectives to consider. With Mercury shifting into retrograde movement for the rest of the waning lunar cycle, the psychopomp nature of Mercury when retrograde can facilitate descent into inner mysteries to gather important understanding that will ultimately help us in navigating external events.
The other major astrological aspect embedded within the Leo Full Moon is the conjunction between Venus with Pluto in Capricorn. When Venus is uniting with Pluto during a Full Moon, there is a greater intensity of depth within relationships, with volcanic and volatilizing feelings breaking through awareness. The potency of Pluto’s influence on Venus penetrates under the surface of relational dynamics, bringing the potential for honest communication and the cultivation of greater intimacy or mutual empowerment if both sides are able to listen and share. Since Pluto dramatically amplifies compulsive and obsessive feelings, it will help to sift through the feelings being stirred up to contemplate what truly needs to be communicated versus what does not.
In addition to Venus catalyzing descent into the underworld desires of Pluto, in the week following the Full Moon we will also experience the heliacal setting of Venus as the star of Aphrodites shares its final light as a Morning Star before disappearing into the shadows of its invisible, underworld phase. Venus will continue to be visible as she makes her way through the rest of the sign of Capricorn, but will begin disappearing from view once she enters Aquarius on February 1. This amplifies the importance of whatever messages you are receiving from the union of Venus and Pluto, as Venus may awaken important desires that will need to be tended and nurtured as she makes her way through her underworld phase in the months ahead. Venus will eventually re-emerge into visible light as an Evening Star in early May.
Leo 1 Decan
The Full Moon will illuminate the first decan of Leo associated with the Five of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. A tarot card associated with conflict and competition, the strife in the image suggests a need to stand ground and fight to achieve a desired position, or could instead be viewed as an inner battle of different aspects of one’s personality contending for control. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo, describing its power as focusing “a mass of attention on one point or person,” while bringing karmic consequences to the role or mask one bears in public performance for an audience. Coppock in particular noted the importance of aligning one’s public persona with one’s inner authenticity so that we do not become trapped in a public role ill-suited to our nature.
Saturn and the Sun are the rulers of the first face of Leo, suggesting the necessity of putting time and concerted effort into constructing an effective vehicle to broadcast our work and radiate meaning to a receptive audience. The meaning of the lunation in this decan is especially notable for those who were born with Saturn in the first decan of Leo, as they are not only experiencing their Saturn opposition but it also being illuminated by a Full Moon in square with Mars and Uranus. Whether you are dealing with a Saturn opposition or not, it will nonetheless be wise to use the slow and steady contemplation of Saturn to consider the ways in which your engagement with the world has felt inauthentic. As Saturn in Aquarius was recently regenerated by the Sun, allow whatever aspects of your old identity and ambitions need to be shed to make space for a more authentic presence to emerge.
It’s further compelling that the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed Hephaistos to the first face of Leo, the greek god of artisans, craftsman, sculptors, blacksmiths, and all manner of fire. Like Hephaistos, we may transfigure the pain of wounds and rejection into artistic forms, tending the fire of the forge as we melt down old structures that can be refashioned anew. The work of Hephaistos is not about speed and making something happen fast, but rather taking the necessary time to work and rework the matter into rarified manifestation. Similarly, we need to take our time and not demand quick results as we transition from a volatile month of January into a month of February that will be dominated by Mercury being retrograde in Aquarius with Venus, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn also occupying Aquarius. Let the light of the Leo Full Moon guide your creative process so it may align with the changes of nature taking shape within internal and external realms. As the Orphic Hymn to Hephaistos sings:
Strong, mighty Hephaistos, bearing splendid light, unweary’d fire, with flaming torrents bright: / Strong-handed, deathless, and of art divine, pure element, a portion of the world is thine: / All-taming artist, all-diffusive pow’r, ’tis thine supreme, all substance to devour: Æther, Sun, Moon, and Stars, light pure and clear, for these thy lucid parts to men appear. / To thee, all dwellings, cities, tribes belong, diffus’d thro’ mortal bodies bright and strong. / Hear, blessed power, to holy rites incline, and all propitious on the incense shine: / Suppress the rage of fires unweary’d frame, and still preserve our nature’s vital flame.
Orphic Hymn to Hephaistos, translated by Thomas Taylor
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.