The Archetype of Leo
by Jef Bartow
Just as the history of mankind’s evolution preceded from the all-powerful Mother Goddess to the individual Hero, we proceed from the archetype of Cancer to the archetype of Leo. The key to Leo is not the hero individuating from the all protective mother, but the individual human shining in its own glory as the "whole man" expressing forth "the Light of the Soul." To do so, each of us must step beyond our conditioning and courageously emanate our own uniqueness. A number of mythological beings are associated with Leo. Except for the Sphinx, all were considered the Sun-God. In fact, the Egyptian sun-god RĀ’s "favorite incarnation" was the Sphinx. "The Sphinx is denoted at once the unity, and the method of development, under individuation, of the soul of universal humanity." The Sphinx became a "symbol of a higher nature arising from the lower, or of the Spirit triumphant over matter." Both the Greek sun god Helios and the Roman sun god Sol are associated with Leo. Their symbolic act was to ride the sun-chariot across the sky each day and into the underworld at night. A picture of Helios is of a "strong and beautiful youth with gleaming eyes, and a crown of flaming rays. Just as the sun's rays penetrate everywhere, so Helios saw everything, and was invoked as a witness of." One version of this myth has Apollo (also considered the sun god), rather than Helios, "as rider, and lions, instead of horses, recalling the link between Leo and the sun." Beyond this, Apollo is most known for his "endless series of lovers, upon whom he fathered many sons." Although Apollo "played a prominent role in a host of famous tales," he assisted a "great number of mortals in response to the involvement of other deities." As we shall see, the archetype of Leo involves both self-expression and selfless cooperation in the service of others.
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The internal drive of Leo toward self-expression and intense self-projection is characterized by persistence and stubbornness with an intense need to be the center of attention. This is further characterized by a need for praise, admiration and personal recognition. Further, an inherent drive to control one's destiny and dominate the environment helps us to become leaders ahead of our time meeting life with pride, style and an uncompromising personal integrity. Early traits instilled by the Leo archetype include an extreme sensitivity to the impact from the external environment; a social insecurity that leads to a tendency to overdo everything; a tendency to arrogance and being the show off; and an excessive use of power in being domineering, intolerant, tyrannical and close minded while clinging to opinions stubbornly.
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What we get is personal freedom from outside control while becoming the ruler of our own life. Our outer oriented personality becomes inner directedness, humble, goal directed and purposeful. The power of the Sphinx leads to a perseverance toward wholeness in which we become a focused emanating light giving generously of self and of life in service to others. The end result is individuating of an outer Self while at the same time creating an inner sense of Beingness.
Living a Spiritual Life
The Will-to-Illumine leads the aspirant to the spiritual Will-to-Rule. Beyond controlling the personality, this new power leads us to achieve self-mastery. The perfected Leo first becomes the loving self-conscious soul and later the source of light and solar fire emanating the purifying "fires of God." In this position of dynamic leadership, whether as a magnetic center of a group or just of one's own destiny, the spiritual Leo within us leads us to inspired spiritual sacrifice. Fittingly, this sacrifice is living a self-directed life with a developed life plan and program based on purpose. It also includes maintaining a spiritual sensitivity to the soul and personality lives in our environment. The Search for Being ends in the expression of Being which has been individualized from the oneness of Being in which each of us resides throughout our cyclic manifestation as personalities.
Individuating the Self through the Search for Being
Through Leo we embrace the crisis of individualization which helps us become a unique, indivisible unit or "whole man." In the process our selfishness is transformed into selflessness; our desire becomes aspiration; our willfulness becomes willingness; and our leadership becomes cooperation. At this level, our willpower becomes the will-to-illumine. The urge toward self-knowledge, self-perception and mental positivity opens us to a sensitivity to the soul and begins the intermarriage between the conscious mind and the unconscious that is needed to become the "individual shining solar glory."
As we have seen with each of our astrological archetypes, the conditioning of the Personality takes on both very positive and somewhat negative attributes. Even the negative attributes provide a positive conditioning within instinctual Man. Later, these positive motivators must be transformed into the more spiritualized aspects of the archetype. One level and conditioning from Leo includes the motivation for dramatic expression of the personality. This expression includes being courageous, loyal and ambitious. Leo helps us to stamp our own ego upon the world while the same time being generous, optimistic, confident and magnetic. Driven to be a benevolent dictator, Leo's influence instills a chivalrous, magnanimous, sympathetic and idealistic approach in exerting willpower and internal fortitude. Other positive descriptors of Leo include enthusiastic, inspirational, affectionate and constancy all of which helps lead us to become intensely self-aware and self-conscious. Overall, the Leo personality becomes characterized by "persistent enthusiasm."