The Sun rises in the second decan of Leo on the morning of August 2nd. The Sun will prowl this span of the sky until August 12th, when it enters Lion’s third and final face.
During the previous decan, we saw a serpent of incandescent spirit descend into matter. The fire snake coalesced into a lion and wrestler and their contest colored that time. They are followed by a second phase and face of the lion, in which power has been obtained, the cat harnessed and ridden to power.
In this face arise knights, conquerors, and villains. Texts abound with images and descriptions of bow wielding warriors, crowned by victory and ready for contest. It is a place of peak strength wielded for both good and evil. It frames the ordeal of triumph, whose challenge is not the acquisition of power but the right use of it. Many have sown their downfall at the point of their zenith.
Though the figures in the extant texts are largely male, if one stares directly into this face, it is difficult to ignore the lion-riding goddesses which flash through it. Glimpses of Ishtar, Durga, and others unnamed or forgotten present themselves here. There is something, in particular, about Durga’s serene, demon-slaying ferocity which hints at the slice of divinity hiding behind this 36th of the zodiac.
Leo’s second decan is an important piece of celestial real estate, as it contains a mid-point between the solstice and equinox, the cross-quarter of the solar year most commonly known as Lughnasa. This year, as the Sun passes this temporal powerpoint, a partial Lunar Eclipse lies in wait. Though the Solar Eclipse on August 21st has absorbed the majority of attention, the Lunar on August 7th should not be ignored. The Solar and Lunar Eclipses are paired in such a way that their meanings and effects are contingent upon one another. It is only by connecting the Head and the Tail that we can map the entirety of the dragon.
And so we find the triumphal one of our story, crowned with laurels, striding boldly up the mountain, seeking the highest point on the highest day. Atop the summit, they watch the Sun set in the West and the Full Moon rise in the East. Yet as the Sun’s rays vanish over the horizon, the bright Moon is lashed and darkened by the Tail of the Dragon. As the shadow creeps over the silver face, the scenery begins to change.
Images drift down from the Eclipse. The scene which takes shape is not unlike that found in The Star card of the tarot, though its palette is darker, and crimson edged. As in the Star, a woman, a goddess whose name has been forgotten or confused, holds two cups. She appears to be naked, though no detail of her can be seen, for she is veiled by a black, shifting mist which wreathes her. When her skin is exposed it appears to flow and change between black, white, and red, a sort of abbreviated rainbow. These are the colors of the primal alchemy. Like in the Star card, there is a pool at her left side, but it is crimson — a pool of blood. Looking deeper into the night-scene, it becomes clear that the pool leaks from a wounded lion. Although at first glance the woman appears to be pouring blood from her cup into the pool, on closer inspection, it is clear that the blood is actually defying gravity to flowing upwards into the cup. She is extracting it from the pool, her cup a sort of magical syringe. Her other cup is raised to the heavens, as if a torch, and from it the blood flows further upward, spiraling toward the Moon and stars. As the spilt blood floats skyward, it separates into small streams which take on the appearance of serpents, or dragons. These coil around the Moon and stars, staining a portion of Luna pink. You see now that she is offering this blood to the celestial lights, and although at first this strikes you as some sort of monstrous, vampiric sacrifice, you understand now that through this process she is somehow healing the beast at her feet. The blood has become tainted or diseased, and she is sending it to the Moon and stars for cleansing. After whatever mysterious alchemy is complete, you know it will be returned to the wounded lion below, fresh and full of primordial star-fire.
This Eclipse is the first of the series to take place in Aquarius with Ketu, the Vedic name for the South Node of the Moon, also known as the Tail of the Dragon. The shadow which falls across the Moon creates an emptiness which attempts to draw out what we no longer need. Failing conscious cooperation on our part, we may find that emptiness is more like a vacuum, pulling away what we think we want.
If we automatically equate draining and emptying with harm, then that means we assume fullness means health. Yet without both the processes of filling and emptying, there is no pulse, no rhythm, and no breath. Emptying is just as important as filling, but it is more frightening, for at it far extent lies death. Yet this outbreath may be the very sacrifice necessary to make room for what the Solar Eclipse on the 21st is due to deliver.