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Mythology of Leo
The ancient Babylonians referred to the constellation we know as Leo, as the Great Dog. There is no reference to Leo or to a lion. The Egyptians referred to the constellation as the Great Sickle. The Egyptians did worship a lion-headed goddess named Sekhmet. She epitomized the Sun at midday, the time when the Sun is the hottest. The Sun is at it's hottest during the month of Leo. It is from this obscurity that Leo was born.

It is believed that the Sphinx, in Egypt, was built at the time of the cusp of the Age of Leo (the Lion) and the Age of Virgo (Harvest Goddess) at about 10,000 BCE. It is a representation of the Lion turning into the Goddess and a basis for the stories of Sun god sacrifice in the mythologies of different cultures. Sacrificing the Sun god comes down to us in our modern religious beliefs of the sacrificing of the "son of God" for the sins of humanity.

In Egypt, Ra, the Sun god sailed the sky in two boats, one took him from the morning sunrise to the evening sunset, and the other took him through the darkness. More well known to most is the mythology of Helios, more often referred to by his Roman name, Apollo. Helios was a Greek Titan, who drove his chariot across the sky daily, providing sunlight to the earth. His main importance to mankind in general lays in his act of standing alone against the Python and changing the course of humanity from the maternal to a patriarchal system. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World was a statue of him.

Apollo's (Helios) legend begins with his pregnant mother, Leto, one of many whom Zeus became enamoured with and quickly abandoned. Seeking refuge from the wrath of Hera, Leto fled to the island of Ortygia, where she gave birth to Artmeis (Diana), goddess of the Moon. Artemis, obviously not born in an infant state, then helped her mother to flee Ortygia. Hera issued a proclamation forbidding sanctuary for her husband's lover. That made it impossible for them to be welcomed into any community, because Hera would destroy the entire village. Finally, too weary in body and spirit to continue, they spotted the free-floating mass of barren rock called Delos. Legend has it that when Leto placed her foot on Delos, four pillars instantly formed, permanently anchoring the floating mass. Artemis helped her mother give birth to Helios and Delos became one of the most renowned places in the Greek world.

Apollo was the "boy wonder" of the gods and he mastered his studies. Later, he wandered all through Greece looking for a place to establish his monument. Eventually, he came to Delphi, which was guarded by the Great Python, a gigantic serpent. With skilled determination and his sword, he killed the Python in battle and established his shrine at that site. The Priestess of his shrine became known as the Pythoness. She was a prophetess who gave private audience to anyone who sought answers to their perplexities in life, answering the questions put her. She was known throughout the world as the Delphi Oracle.

On the gates to the Delphi Oracle two signs hung to remind the people of he importance of being grounded and self-restraint. The first: Know Thyself. How often do we respond with "I don't know"? This catch-all phrase is used to respond to questions not only about knowledge we may lack, but in response to questions about our emotions. We are so out of touch with who the Self is, that feelings and thoughts confuse us and leave us farther away from our center of gravity than is healthy for us physically. And it is evidenced in the amount of physical and mental illness that we suffer. Our greatest quest in life is to KNOW ourselves.

The second sign stated: Nothing In Excess. Moderation has always been the key to personal well being, yet we live in a society that invites extremism. "To the max", "the sky's the limit", "no pain-no gain", "give 'til it hurts", "push the envelope"... so many catch-phrases to describe going beyond the "norm". No one is untouched by the need for rehab centers, where we send those who used drugs or alcohol in excess. If we do not indulge in extreme indulgence of alcohol, drugs, pot or sex, then we know a family member or friend who has. None of us are untouched by this extreme indulgence to modify the senses. Some of us are danger-seekers, seeking the extreme of excitement that confronts death. However we choose to be excessive, we are not only breaking the one rule of true growth...but it is, in turn, forcing the breaking of the other rule. When we drive ourselves to excess either by activity or by indulging in harmful addictions, we cannot truly know ourselves. We are not seeing the true inner-self, but a refection of something we THINK we are. When we proceed with the activity or indulgence, we are acting out in a way that we hope will bring a change and make that inner-image look better to us.

When it is the willpower that is excessive, then that can lead to arrogance. The story of Phaethon and his desire to drive the Chariot of the Sun across the sky is the story of arrogance that leads to destruction. Helio's son, Phaethon had only one goal in life and that was to drive his father's chariot across the sky. He was relentless in his pursuit of this goal and eventually, Helios allowed him to mount the chariot. The horses were too much for Phaethon to handle and they took off in a wild ride that moved without pattern across the sky. Parts of the Earth were scorched when the chariot came to close to the ground. In the end Zeus intervened sending a thunderbolt to end the wild chaotic ride and Phaethon was killed. Hercules is another example of unrestrained willpower. He was the archetype hero, but he was also unbridled in his behavior. His anger, drunkenness, raging and fighting caused innocents to suffer. He was hero, but hardly an example of what we expect our heroes today to be like.

The slaying of the serpent legend (or dragon in some cultures) permeates all ancient mythologies including our own modern religious mythologies, which indicates a commonality of a deeper significance, within what Carl Jung called, the collective unconscious. There are two theories or explanations for the myth. One explanation is that it symbolizes the Patriarchal tribes overthrowing the Matriarchal system of life. We had passed from the Age of Taurus into the Age of Aries and the peaceful
coexistence that had existed ceased as the aggressive, uncontrolled urges to dominate arose. The old Matriarchal religious system was brought down by armies sweeping over the countryside and establishing their Patriarchal system. There is a basic acceptance of the myth that in the beginning women ruled and controlled life much the same way men do in modern times, which gives us the societal application. There is a second theory that also fits us as individuals. The Jungian interpretation of the myth is that the serpent or dragon is the collective unconscious (evidenced by the fact it resided in the water or under the earth). It is the vital power of life itself. The slayer represents the establishment of order to the directionless unconscious and it represents the power of the Self to rise up and slay the inner demons that bring us to the brink of self-destruction.

Originally Apollo or Helios was the god of science, mathematics, archery, and oracles and prophecy. This represents the balance between focused consciousness and mystical awareness, the balance between Yin and Yang. He became the Sun god in classical times. Traditionally the Sun has always symbolized directed will or a sense of purpose, which is why is it represents Self in astrology. The Sun rules the sign Leo and is a masculine archetype for the "inner ruler", the vital force that emerges when there is a true union between the masculine and feminine qualities within.

The myth of Apollo does not end with the slaying of the Python and the establishment of his shrine. Apollo fell in love with Daphne, a nymph, but he had no ability to relate to other people. His interests were the only importance concerns to him. Because of his self-absorption his relationship with Daphne failed. With her needs not being met, she responded angrily and Apollo, angry with for being what he thought was demanding, turned her into a laurel tree. He never married or had another relationship as he did with Daphne. It should be noted that Prophetess at Delphi would chew on laurel leaves as part of her preparation for delivering a prophecy.

It is important to remember that those planets in aspect to the sun have a significant affect on the native's ability to reach goals in life. Vitality and life force, the core of what constitutes health, are affected by Apollo as the god of medicine. A balance between self and the environment is fundamental to maintaining good health. In this regard it is important to understand the myth of Apollo and learn to apply the most important of his myth legacy: Nothing In Excess and Know Thyself.

Napoleon Bonaparte. Benito Mussolini. Fidel Castro. They were all born in obscurity and ascended to the absolute heights of their ascendance. All were born in the month of Leo and all are examples of the negative side or afflicted Leo, at least in the public perception of them. The most shining example of a Leo ruler was Louis IVX, King of France, who was referred to as the Sun King. He exemplified Leo in the most glorious, positive way and France flourished under his rule.

Mythological examples of harnessing the powers of the Leo Sun are found in the stories of Gilgamesh and Hercules. Gilgamesh, of Babylonian, slew a pride of lions and Hercules killed the Nemean lion in the first of his twelve labors. Both are archetypes of the will gaining control over the passions. Hercules and Gilgamesh are examples of will and the respective lions represent passions.

The Sun, the planet that represents Leo, is the visible symbol of the life force. It represents pure power, with neither a good nor bad connotation. However, left to run wild, the Leo Sun assumes a negative path toward egotism, arrogance and domination. It is Leo's purpose to harness the power of the Sun.

Jupiter was the Olympian ruler of Leo and that influence still shines through the Leo personality as Leos are considered jovial, exuberantly cheerful and social.

Atalanta is also associated with Leo. Her father, Iasus, was disappointed that she was not a son and abandoned her on a mountaintop. She was raised by a wild female bear and developed hunting and athletic skills that surpassed all mortals in the land. She wasn't a man-hater, but she was not fond of men. She did like the competitiveness they offered. She was pursued by many suitors, none of whom interested her. She devised a competition and promised to marry the man who could beat her in a foot race. Eventually, Melanion came along. He had placed three golden apples at different places in the race path and the time it took Atalanta to bend down to pick them up afforded Melanion just enough time to pull ahead and win the race. They were married and had at least one child. Later, they were both turned into lions for offending Zeus.

Wisdom is associated with Leo because of Leo's association with kings and queens, heroes and heroines. Fearlessness and courage is tied to one's abilities to outwit their opponent and to protect those weaker in the country or under his protection. In the past rulers were chosen for their awesome abilities to outwit and overpower their enemies.

Regulus, the bright star in the constellation Leo is the heart of the lion. It was known as a "watcher of the horizon" along with three other stars, Aldebaran, Antares, and Fomalhaut, all rising at different solstices and equinoxes. Regulus rose at the Summer Solstice, the time of the Sun's maximum power.

Sun and Moon sign Leo's are usually involved more in raising their children, seeing them as creations of themselves, where as Ascendant Leo's are more involved in self-development toward a regal state. They often find themselves in leadership positions by choice or not.

The father is the dominating figure in Leo, as the mother is in Cancer. With a Leo, the father has more of an inner, emotional, heart connection with this child. Leo underwent a change for those born between 1939 and 1957 when Pluto entered Leo. Fathers were psychologically if not physically, absent from their children's lives. It was especially so in 1947 and 1948, when Pluto and Saturn were conjoined in Leo. As a result of this Plutonian influence the baby-boom generation has attempted to become super parents to their own offspring to fill the void they were left with.

Modern day Leos don't tend to be what is typically described in Sun sign columns in publications. The warm solar fire has disappeared and the dark, mysterious, glow of the embers of the Underworld have taken over. Enthusiastic exuberance has given way to a powerful brooding. Also, these Leo's who feel that that they are not the Leos described in Sun sign astrology tend to have a mid-life awakening. Something triggers a heart wrenching response and the native Leo is thrust into a time of self-searching. Only after this experience, after they begin to understand themselves, can they begin to become the Leos they were born into this world to be.


1. The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need by Joanne Martine Woolfolk
2. Archetypes of the Zodiac by Kathleen Burt
3. Mythology by Edith Hamilton
4. Dictionary of Astrology by Fred Gettings
5. Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope by Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson