The Lion and the Cobra and the Leo-Scorpio Square

Lion and Cobra

There are often profound insights to be found in scripture. This has nothing to do with religious belief either, it merely states a clear fact, because it states in the bible that you really don’t want to be stepping on the Lion and the Cobra if you can possibly avoid it. (Actually it says that you can tread on the Lion and the Cobra, providing you trust in the Lord thus: “No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.” From Psalm 91). Clearly though the wisdom contained therein suggests that unless you have the Lord’s protection, then the last things you should step upon in all creation are the Lion or the Cobra. They’ll mess you up. The aphorism derived from this is astrologically apt, the Cobra will leave you alone providing you don’t provoke it, and a happy well-fed lion will happily ignore you too, providing you show it proper respect and this is no more or no less than we understand about the nature of Leo and Scorpio.

In my experience Leo speaks to two key principles; leadership and creativity and all Leos and Leo placements will have at their essence one of these Manuscript Headerconcerns (and often both). The reason that Leo speaks to leadership concerns is because of its innate expectation of respect, because like any lion, Leo wants to be admired. Thus Saturn in Leo creates a test of leadership, the pull of the Leonine fire is toward exaltation, like the fixed flame of his genesis, it is a wondrous sight to behold (think “the eternal flame!”) but with Saturn the desire for that divine state is turned into a life-challenge; people will not admire the Leo configured with Saturn even though the native will demand it, this creates (often) arrogance and pomposity – which is merely a state of demanding respect which has not been earned. That is Saturn in Leo. Similarly, Leo is the creative principle; ruled by the Sun, creator of all life, which is exactly why Jupiter in Leo so loves children and Saturn in Leo struggles to love them. Moon in Leo is instinctively commanding, when put under pressure the Moon in Leo native will try to take charge. All of these insights are underpinned though by the fixed nature of the sign. Yes fire is warm, fire draws people to itself, but the fixity of Leo proclaims itself as a fire that cannot be put out, thus it cannot be extinguished, managed, controlled or argued with, Leo is an ‘always on’ type of energy that like the Lion will not stand down.

And then there is the cobra. Here is an entirely different animal. Cold-blooded, deadly, hard to properly see and generally feared, but not feared out of respect for its magnificence like the lion, feared because it will leave you for dead as soon as look at you. The cobra is not mighty in that divine and kingly way that the lion conjures, but just as deadly, just as implacable. Now if you think about the cobra (or the Scorpion: another facsimile for the Scorpio energy) you will understand right away that they are small, almost insignificant, but they can kill an animal many times their own size and what this really underlines is the key power of the sign of Scorpio: survival.

There are sub-plots with Scorpio of course, but they all boil down to the essential foundation of the sign’s nature, which is the survival instinct. The major sub-plot is the idea of penetration; that is a sexual imperative (via the penetration involved in coitus) as well as a mortal one (since penetration of the flesh by sword, sting or venomous fang will destroy the life), but essentially, this penetration is always at its core a survival issue; sexual penetration ensures genetic survival while combative penetration ensures physical survival; thus the essence of Scorpio is always survival. I have written about this in the past in context of Moon in Scorpio, but consider Mars in Scorpio; here is a placement that is ideal for the warrior type. It is not the chivalric, noble warrior code of Mars in Leo for whom honour and glory on the field of battle are possibly held in higher regard even than survival, but it is instead the kill-or-be-killed mentality of the pit-fighter, it is the secret, stealthy mentality of the assassin, it is the merciless and ruthless killer who, without hesitation strikes down his foe and doesn’t look back. There is no consideration of honour, but neither is there any attempt to bathe in the glory of an act of violence, it is merely expeditious; it is a doing what must be done, without a great fuss, in order that life can go on.

This understanding gives a powerful insight into the Leo-Scorpio square. Both signs are in their way implacable, both are fixed, both will not give way and a head-to-head between the lion and the cobra is going to make an uncomfortable contest. The lion cannot give way because he would be dishonoured to do so and his dream of respect and leadership would lie in tatters if he were seen to ignobly baulk at the offer of battle. By the same token, the cobra will not turn his back on the fight because his survival instinct is too strong, turning his back would leave it open to attack and so a stand-off ensues.

There is therefore an inability to compromise in any square between the signs of Leo and Scorpio, both want to go their own way and neither is prepared to back down. The result of any square is tension and ultimately inertia, but with these signs the tension is multiplied and magnified both; neither sign too understands the other, inextinguishable flame and stagnant water have little enough common quality, it is an irresistible force and an immovable object combination that simply creates a peculiar form of paralysis. Actually, as we are beginning to understand it is actually very much a stand-off; neither can feel it is able to win the fight, but neither – for entirely different reasons – feels comfortable with the idea of backing down.

Let us consider a few informative examples.

How about Ted Bundy, the American serial killer, estimated to have murdered between 29 and 100 young women between 1974 and 1978?

Ted Bundy Nativity

Here the square aspect connects a conjunction of Saturn with Pluto in Leo on the 12th with Jupiter in Scorpio riding the Imum Coeli; this is significant especially. Saturn combined with Pluto is known for its brutality; it was known bt Ebertin as “hard labour” and indeed wherever it is found it makes life very, very difficult; it is for this reason that esoteric astrologers consider it to be a deeply karmic aspect, and whether or not you choose to believe that, the reality is, it makes something of a prison sentence of the life. With the ruler of the 8th – Neptune – itself being the ruler of the 12th, then it is little surprise that Bundy’s life ended in prison at the hands of the legal system (Neptune in Libra!). This aside though, consider the ruler of Leo, the Sun and place that brutality in context; the Sun is in the fourth, so the brutality implied by the Saturn Pluto conjunction is enacted through increasingly sadistic sexual tendencies (Jupiter in Scorpio negated) in private (the 4th). The majority of his attacks were carried out in his car or in the homes of his victims, (3rd/4th houses). Jupiter configured with Saturn creates an enormous oscillation; it is a stop-start, hot-cold aspect that generates debilitating tension; Jupiter and Pluto bring leadership and dominance issues to the fore; especially across these signs; here there is tremendous potential for abuse. Consider the near-peregrine island of Mercury and Venus in Scorpio; here is somebody who thinks about sexual or power issues, who possibly confuses love and sex and who is sexually dissatisfied (implied by the Venus quincunx deviant Uranian thinking in Gemini). The mix is difficult and dangerous.

The key however is Jupiter in almost partile square to Pluto; which itself combined with Saturn in the suppressed 12th gives near-fanatic sexual dominance issues that conjunct the IC, are carried on in secret. Anyone born in the years 1946 and 1947 with this particular square (and more generally the Sa/Pl conjunction) will probably display some measure of fanaticism in their outlook; I have seen it time and again in this subset of the Pluto in Leo generation and it nearly always combines power and money issues in some way (and how else explain how that generation ushered in the most debilitating era of pointless and soulless capitalism since the days of European feudalism?) Here is a further example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger Nativity

Consider this identical aspect in the chart of the well-known actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here the fanatic impulse is found in the Sa/Pl conjunct in Leo too, but now in the earthy 2nd, there is therefore a financial connotation, and Arnold is truly wealthy, but the house (and the sign of Leo too) is now dominated by the Sun, partile to the cusp in its domicile; creating an enormous ego and huge personal and physical power. The square to Jupiter in Scorpio creates a leadership issue too, but the Ascendant is trine Jupiter giving an easy outlet for the tension into the body itself. Arnold’s physique becomes a channel for all that power, leadership and dominance; he can quite literally manifest the tension into his muscles. In the 5th as well, Jupiter introduces an element of joy into proceedings, Arnold enjoys flexing his biceps and showing off his great power. But let us not forget too that Arnold has a peregrine Venus, he really wants to be beautiful and admired for his physical perfection (Venus rising) and in the sign of Cancer and with Moon quindecile to Mars in the 12th, he probably feels compelled to do that because his mother didn’t nurture him very well.

But despite all of this, there is a combination of Leo and Scorpio that is respectful to both. It is the Spartan. Here is a warrior that retains honour and respect, but fights for survival. The key to transforming the Leo-Pluto square then is to fight, not like Richard, Coerr de Lion, but to stand your ground, like Leonidas at Thermopylae. That is the archetypal compromise for these two difficult energies. It is not so much a winner and loser scenario, but instead it speaks of finding the very narrow common-ground, the perfect balance between the two, where their energies can be combined in the person of the Scorpion-King (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Conan the Barbarian, the role which first catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger to the A list. Another example of just how succinctly life imitates art!)

The Astrologer’s Degrees, a Study of the Evidence.

Today I wish to look in some detail at a specific phenomena that is of great interest to the astrologer, the provocatively named “Astrologer’s Degree.”

Provocative, not least because in binary thinking (which is ultimately commonplace even among astrologers!) it suggests an on-off state, it provokes the deterministic view that an ability for astrology can be realised through placements to a specific degree in the nativity. Of course, this is utter nonsense, it cannot, nor should be so, however, it most certainly is not unreasonable to posit placements upon any supposed degree to incline toward an astrological acumen, an acumen that need never be realised in the life unless other predisposing factors support the same view. Imagine it is like a pushbike. If you have two wheels, a frame, handlebars, brakes and a saddle then you can put them all together and actually ride off into the sunset. If you only have one wheel, then you are at something of a loss, and are going nowhere. An astrologer’s degree placement then is perhaps like a single wheel, useful only if you happen to have the other parts.

So let us discover the nature of those other parts first, before we examine the degrees themselves. Binary thinkers have run various algorithms through databases of nativities in an attempt to discover a golden astrologer’s bullet without any particular success. One such study came out with the following results:

  • 38% had the Sun in Scorpio, Sagittarius or Capricorn and these placements were found in the astrologers charts twice as often as they were found in the control group.
  • Sun, Moon or Mercury was found in a fixed house for 70% of astrologers and Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn were placed in an air house for 71%.
  • Sixty-three percent of the astrologers had the ruler of the eleventh house direct.
  • None of the astrologers tested had a mutual reception between Sun and Uranus.
  • Pluto, Chiron or the North Node was placed in one of the Gauquelin power zones in 66%.
  • Uranus was found aspecting the vertex in the control group more often than it was found aspecting the vertex in the astrologers’ horoscopes.
  • Nothing was found in 100% of the astrologers’ charts.

 

This is not really useful particularly, because it is trying to measure a grey area (human potential); we might as well say that forty percent of vehicles are red, seventy percent have at least two wheels, but only five percent were bicycles! I only include this rather vile pandering to statistical scientism as a reminder of the pointlessness of measuring the immeasurable. What, then, pertinently, would I look for in the astrologer, apart from placements to an astrologer’s degree?

Urania, muse of astrology and astronomyFirstly I would look to the position of Uranus and to a lesser extent Saturn. Uranus configured to the angles seems to be prevalent, as does a strong Saturn. Uranus gives flashes of insight as well as mathematically themed abilities while Saturn provides rigour and an ability to structure. Traditional astrologers point to the importance of Mercury in the consideration of astrological ability. Some people say that the asteroid Urania -muse of astrology and astronomy both – ought to be meaningfully placed. Noel Tyl posits the view in his books that 18 degrees of mutable signs is significant in the study of astrology. Similarly, James Braha asserts that it is common for the greatest Hindu astrologers to have been born with a powerfully disposed Moon (memory) and 2nd house (knowledge).

All of this technical discussion though fails to address one key consideration, since the premise of the study – in my view at least – requires clarification. In my experience, astrology is as much – if not more – about counselling as it is about any technical ability to understand the patterns of energy in the nativity. An abstract grasp of rhyme and metre after all, does not a Dryden make. To pattern recognition, mythic-insight and meditative application you must then add an ability to talk to people, or at least to be able to convey sensitively in writing an appreciation of their struggles; some measure then of humanity and compassionate mettle forged through trial and adversity cannot be lacking otherwise the science of astrology becomes a brittle, artless parlour-trick with no practical application.

So to this list I would add a requirement of sensitivity, which might be supported by the configuration of Neptune with either of the luminaries, a strong Piscean influence, 12th house significators, Virgo too, through the polarity of Pisces and the service-oriented axis and any strongly Lunar characteristics. To the ideal for counselling I would suggest that a study of the descendant may be pertinent, since it is the Aries polarity point of Libra and thus it is concerned entirely with the other fellow.

Finally I would like to look at Chiron, since here is a new factor in astrology; indeed, Chiron was the first astrologer, so it is only fitting that he ought to figure in the craft very centrally. Chiromancy and chiropractics are both concerned with the hands, the healing power of the hands specifically and Chiron recognises, not a power centre in the nativity, but actually the astrologer, card reader, palmist him or herself, on one level at least.

So, these are the other factors, now what of the degrees themselves? I do not wish to discuss the etymology of the degrees as individual powers to promulgate fate and character, at this stage, let us just accept that for whatever reason, they have relevance. The sources are obscure, the interpretations many, but here are the astrologer’s degrees according to deVore:

From 22° – 28° Aquarius.
From 25° – 29° Leo.
With particular emphasis being given to the 27° Leo – Aquarius axis.

Furthermore, 11° Virgo is considered an astrologer’s degree, no doubt with a very tight orb, thus 10° – 12° of Virgo and there may be a polarity point at 11° Pisces, although this is by no means agreed upon uniformly in the various sources.

It is assumed then that any placement upon these degrees will give some propensity toward astrological ability. Let us look at a couple of cases to check the veracity of these degrees. Firstly, Alan Leo, the great Edwardian astrologer who very much revived the art in the early days of last century. From our list of correspondences then:

Uranus: in the 10th, so career configured, but not much otherwise.
Saturn: Rising, partile Ascendant at 27° Leo (the astrologer’s degree).
Mercury: nothing here particularly, Rx in the 12th, separating from Saturn rising.
Urania: Found at 5° Libra in the second, which is relevant according to James Braha.
Sensitivity: This does not appear to be a big theme in Leo’s chart, his Moon is in mania-susceptible Aries, and highly stressed as the focus of a t-square from Venus opposing Mars. Neptune is in its rulership though and at the 30th degree, thus it is especially fated.
Chiron: He falls conjunct the descendant, an ideal counselling position, especially for the astrologer Chiron and opposing the Saturn and Ascendant, he too falls in the astrologer’s degrees of Aquarius. Evidently it is this axis in particular which is of overwhelming import in creating an aptitude for astrology.
18° of Mutable signs: Nothing here either.

Beyond this, there are no other major asteroids on any of the astrologer’s degrees, although his Part of Plays falls exactly conjunct Chiron at 25° Aquarius.

Applying the same methodology to my own chart I get:

Uranus: Rising, thus prominent.
Saturn: Nothing here.
Mercury: Peregrine (unaspected) in the second.
Urania: At 11° Pisces, thus at a possible astrologer’s degree.
Sensitivity: Moon is probably peregrine (unaspected) but the closest major aspect at near 9° is a conjunction to Neptune. I am never sure whether to count this or not.
Chiron: conjunct the descendant in Pisces and partile to the Vertex.
18° of Mutable signs: Mars at 17°49′ Sagittarius.

Otherwise, I have Jupiter at 27° Leo exactly opposing Isis at 27° Aquarius, Pars Fortuna at 25° Leo and Pallas – pattern recognition – at 26° Leo, all astrologer’s degrees, with Venus in the 12th on the cusp of Virgo, just a degree or so off the range of Leo.

I know a fair few astrologers around the world, and I can comfortably say that those who appear to have the greatest blend of skill in applying the understanding of the science to the practical and compassionate art of counselling all appear to have some strong configurations around the aforementioned degrees, and usually several other indicators to boot.

I should add as a disclaimer, because I have read message boards on this subject before and those who do not have the configurations indicated seem to delight (I think for fairly understandable reasons) in debunking the theory, but again, I am not claiming that without these degrees configured there is no ability in the study of astrology. Far from it, I have known many people who are deeply skilled in astrological techniques who show none of these indicators; to which I say only that they source the individual cogs and gears of their bicycles from different suppliers and pedal along with just as much enthusiasm as myself or anyone else, and to them I wish safe journey, to the stars, the sunset, or wherever the great art might take you.

The fine art of synthesis

Without question, the most difficult aspect of my work as an astrologer is to do with managing people’s expectations, this is inordinately tricky, because it is very straightforward to make a few fairly accurate observations, but people want more than that at the same time as they want less. This might sound contradictory, but it’s only human nature; actually what people want to hear is that all their problems are going to be easily solvable or at least solvable without their having to experience any self-doubt or uncertainty. No surprise, because whilst most everyone realises that they are not living particularly closely to their best potentials, that’s usually okay; a fuzzy general sense of “could do better” is inordinately preferable to “you’re a git”.

I would never tell anyone that they’re a git (not least because every chart contains the potential for git-like behaviour), but I am often quite shocked at just how preconceived people’s self-image can be. I don’t say this out of spite, far from it, it is just a minefield for me in my work because I do not make judgements, I just write what I see, and although I do get the colouration wrong often enough, the general shape or form usually bears out. What that means is that it is easy to get confused about whether the Leo principle plays out in a chart as leadership or creativity principles, but configured tensely the result is the same, there are ego-effects, whether because the native considers themselves a great artist, or that they ought to be ‘in charge’, but either way, there is an issue which could be improved upon. Now life is subjective, so to the tensely configured Leo there may well be no problem; they only want to lead because they’re obviously so damn good at it compared to the other candidates that actually it would be ludicrous to not give them the power they are so clearly born to wield. But to the other person, who is just as well qualified, has worked just as hard, and has the same or even better experience, Leo’s God-given right-to-rule seems like a vanity at best, and pompous arrogance at worst.

This is the conundrum for the astrologer. Do you gloss over the negative potential of a hard Leo configuration, or do you tell them that actually, until they recognise the negative potential of this situation they are going to continue struggling with these power-struggle scenarios in their life?

This is the subjectivity trap of course; often our self-judged best qualities make us very hard work for everyone else. Mr Scorpio’s cool detachment and reserve is to him a real asset and actually he knows so much of that mortal confusion and hoo-har is just beneath him, he’s no headless chicken, but to everyone else? Well, he might think he’s as cool as a cucumber but actually he’s rather aloof and cold for the most part, and actually he’s not as unaffected as he likes to think, because when he goes off, man, you’d better take cover: talk about murderous!

A face to face consultation negates much of the uncertainty because that way you get continual feedback: you can suggest something is so and gauge the reaction before building on it; usually the adjustment required is minor, but it is rather analogous to going on a long journey in the wilderness without a compass, you only need to be a half-degree off course at the start to end-up several miles wide of your target after a couple of hours of trekking. So that is the conundrum, and though there is a solution to it, it’s onerous.

The tried and tested method is to generalise, to make vague, to hint at broad sweeps rather than specifics. The specifics that get worked out in a face to face consultation are so much more hit and miss when you are having to write an entire interpretation without any guidance at all. I am learning that it often helps to gauge some key elements of the themes that appear to be manifesting in the chart by asking a few pointed questions even before I start. I have been burned on that score too many times now, but of course I have my pride too, (Jupiter in Leo?) which encourages me to try and hit the nail on the head even without any feedback.

What it boils down to in the final analysis is the subtle interpersonal energies and frictions that are generated by the astrologer and client. I would hope that most people would be forgiving of a theme being wrongly ascribed. If I say that somebody with Sun square Neptune has some issues with the father being hard to get hold of, possibly absent, maybe impractical or even a drunk then that describes an archetypal sense-impression that is generated from the configuration. It is highly frustrating to be told that “you’re completely wrong about that: my father was a successful artist, but I never saw him much because he was always in his studio!” I have had this happen before, word-for-word!

Another example of this exact type was one young man who had Neptune in the 10th supported by Mars in the 12th. I told him that he really ought to join the navy, because it would suit him very well. I received a blank look and decided to move on, but then a few days later I heard from his sister that all his life her brother had dreamed of working on a cruise ship…

It is such a difficult balance to strike; and without writing a disclaimer at the start, it will probably continue to be a problem; but as with anything in life, experience teaches solutions to even the most intractable of problems and I am confident that I will figure it out eventually. Probably, with Neptune and Mars in the 3rd I will always be plagued to some extent by a general inability to communicate specifics well even if I do so with great enthusiasm.

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