Mystic Minds
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Mystic Minds

Tarot Birth Cards — Leo

What Leos can learn about inner strength

The B.O.T.A version of the Strength card. A significant difference from the Rider-Waite version, the woman is pictured opening the lion’s mouth, where the R-W rendition shows her closing the mouth. Note: B.O.T.A stands for Builders of the Adytum, a mystery school still in existence today, founded by Paul Foster Case.

About Leo

Leo (July 23 — August 22) is the second fire sign in the zodiac, the fifth sign overall, and rules the fifth house (the fifth house rules sports, children, creativity, romance, fun, the love you give, and love affairs).

Ruling planet: the Sun — center of our solar system (although many Leos, unsurprisingly, consider themselves to be the center of the solar system).

Positive Characteristics: ambitious, assertive, bold, confident, creative, dignified, dramatic, generous, idealistic, optimistic, romantic, self-assured.

Negative Characteristics: Autocratic, boastful, braggadocious, bullying, childish, cruel, egotistical, narcissistic, pretentious, overbearing, status-conscious, vain.

Quote from an Expert: Joanna Martine Woolfolk writes about Leo (in her book The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need):

“All Leos possess a kingdom. Whatever kingdom it is (home, relationship, business, creative project, etc), you are unquestioningly ruler of this kingdom. Self-assurance surrounds Leo people…While others wait in the wings, you bask in the spotlight. Whatever you do, you do with a flair for the dramatic — everything about you is theatrical. When you enter a room you secretly hope everyone will stand up and sing a few stanzas of the Hallelujah Chorus!”

Personal Observations of Leo:

In the family I was raised in, Leo was king, although I didn’t know what that really meant until I became obsessed with astrology and tarot in my late twenties and reviewed the birth charts of my parents and two brothers.

Whatever doubts I had about astrology before then, when I saw the uncanny similarities between our charts, all those doubts dissolved.

My father — Leo moon and Leo rising; my mother — Leo moon; my youngest brother — Leo sun, Leo moon; middle brother — sun in the first house; Me — Leo rising.

To add more fire to the fire, each of us has just as much Aries energy in our charts as Leo. It’s not at all surprising that although my parents were both academics (oh yeah, Sagitarrius is strong in our family too!), they were known as the party people in their respective schools and none of their colleagues would dare miss my parent’s famous off-the-hook New Year's Eve parties.

During our family dinners, if you were a guest, good luck getting a word in edgewise as we would all talk over each other while competing to see who could finish their plate the quickest.

It should be noted that not all Leos are as demonstrably extroverted as their sign’s reputation says they should be. One of the most agoraphobic, introverted people I’ve ever known is a Leo. He’s one of those people that when you get him in a one-on-one conversation, you have to provide all the talk, while he just nods and sips his IPA.

It turns out, that although shy in public, he is a veritable force to be reckoned with in the world of social media. It just goes to show, that once a Leo finds his kingdom, there is no room for shyness and their brightness shines forth like a life-giving sun.

About the Strength Card

Of all the Major Arcana cards that correspond with Zodiac signs, the Strength card and the sign of Leo are the most obvious of matches. After all, Leo’s symbol is the lion, while a red lion is featured on the Tarot card.

Like many of the Tarot archetypes, the Strength card involves a relationship dynamic between two forces merging as one. This dynamic is symbolized by the Lady in white and the red Lion.

The lion represents the raw animal and kundalini energy brought under the guidance of the higher aspects of our spiritual nature — the Lady in white, who represents higher consciousness, conscience, intuition, pure awareness. In the Tarot, the color white symbolizes purity of spirit while red represents the fiery life-power, the source of all action.

Someone who is tapped into the essence of the Strength card is at peak flow because their creative energies (as symbolized by the Lion) are being nurtured and guided by the purity of their spirit (the Lady).

Imagine an actor on stage who has “disappeared” into her character, or a writer on fire with inspiration making narrative music via his keyboard, or — speaking of music — a singer perfectly capturing the emotional power of a song.

Artists in the state of flow have no room for being distracted by the petty concerns of their nagging egos. If they stop to wonder what others might be thinking, or if they should check their likes on Facebook, or whether they should go grocery shopping before dinner time rolls around, then they have stumbled out of the flow state and cut off their connection with their creative source.

Just like we all have Leo energies within us, so too do we have the archetype characterized by the Strength card. There are two ways we can negatively express those energies. Either by caging the lion and never letting him out to express himself or by letting him go wild and run amock.

People who say “I’m just not creative” and claim that they have no creative outlet whatsoever represent the first group. They have creative impulses (all human beings do), but something happened to them (probably during childhood) and their survival/defense mechanism response caused them to shut down those impulses in order to “fit in”. Or they have felt those impulses, but they channel them into unhealthy, even toxic activities like drug abuse or other addictions.

These folks have subdued their creative energies for the illusion of safety or fear of change. They have chosen mere survival over being truly alive.

Members of the second group, whose inner lions are wildly running amock with no spiritual guidance, usually represent one or more of the negative Leo characteristics listed above. They can be self-serving egoists who learned a long time ago that if they have to use, manipulate, and bully their way to get what they want, then so be it.

These folks have subdued their conscience for the illusion of control. They have chosen to serve the will of ego rather than the will of their higher natures.

The trick, naturally, is to embody the merging of the Lady and the Lion, to channel our creative energies into activities that serve the highest good.

The Other Tiers of Leo

As explained in the first two articles in the series, the Tarot deck can be divided into three tiers: The Major Arcana, the Court cards, and the Minor Arcana. As such, every Zodiac sign has a Major Arcana, a Court card, and three Minor Arcana cards representing them energetically.

The Major Arcana (third tier) represents the quintessential evolved energies of that Zodiac sign — in this instance, that of Leo.

On the second tier, we have the court cards, and they represent the evolved individual who embodies the Leo energies. Because Leo is a fire sign, in order to determine which court card best represents the second tier of Leo, we first look to the suit of wands.

Secondly, because Leo is a fixed sign, and because we know that “fixed” in this context signifies loyalty, creativity, and willpower, we assign the Queen as the appropriate court representative. Put those two elements together and we get…(drum roll, please…)

The Queen of Wands!

Notice the multiple leonine symbols in this card: the sunflower, the two (red) lions facing each other on the back of the throne, the two lions supporting the armrests, and, finally, the black cat sitting at the feet of the queen’s throne.

Notice, too, the queen’s white robe, similar to the white robes of the Lady of the Strength card.

The queens in general represent the Yin energies to the Yang energies represented by the kings.

In order to optimally embody the archetypal energies represented by the Strength card, one should be receptive to the mysterious pranic forces (represented by the black cat), and using the force of Will, gently nurture and guide those forces towards fruitful expression.

In practical terms, centering yourself, breath work, meditating, yoga, qigong — any of these activities and more — would be instrumental aspects crucial to connecting with your higher wisdom and summoning a creative flow state.

Minor Arcana Birth Cards for Leo

There are three Minor Arcana cards to choose from to determine your birth card here. As explained in the first two articles in this series, these three sections are called “decans” and relate to the dates that make up a respective Zodiac sign. For Leo the three decans are divided thusly (dates are approximate):

First decan: July 23-August 1 — Five of Wands — Primary Challenge: To mediate and adopt the chaotic energetic forces from transform conflict into creative play.

Second Decan: August 2–11 — Six of Wands — Primary Challenge: To harmonize the creative forces into a loving celebration of self and others.

Third Decan: August 12–22 — Seven of Wands — Primary Challenge: To master the creative forces and guide them into cooperative victory.

Putting it All Together

There is a kind of progressive evolutionary logic in working with your birth cards. The first (or lower) tier represents the primary challenges and lessons you’ll regularly face as someone burning with the fiery energies of Leo. The second tier represents how you can most effectively manifest those Leo energies as a practical human in this world. And the third (highest) tier represents your soul’s goal for this lifetime.

As a first decan Leo, your regularly (un)scheduled lessons and challenges will often revolve around the conflicts inherent in yourself, the ego doing battle for supremacy with your higher natures. This conflict often will be reflected outwardly in arguments and battles with the egos of others in your life. The challenge is to transform those energies into fighting together for a greater, creative goal, rather than fighting each other just to be the one on top.

The Six of Wands reminds us to find harmony between creative forces by loving ourselves and by extending that love outwardly. In other words, if you are loving what you’re doing, that love will show and be a key indication that you’re doing the right thing.

The Seven of Wands reminds us that by mastering our creative forces, we rise above the petty squabbles of the ego-mind, and we direct those forces towards victory.

On the mature, evolved level of being, the level of role model, parent, leader, and influencer, the Queen of Wands represents the essential embodiment of Leo. The Queen of Wands reminds us that in order to fully and most effectively express our creative energies, we must tame our wild minds allowing them to be directed by the gentle nature of pure consciousness.

Strength: The Creative, Loving Expression of Pure Consciousness.

To read my previous Birth Card articles, click on these links:



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Damian Sebouhian

I write Muse Exclusives on topics ranging from metaphysics, meditation, tarot, mythology, poetry, art, humor, and other adventures.