Birdsnest Stadium in Beijing
Leo Solar Festival
The Festival of Sirius, at the Full Moon Eclipse in Aquarius 2008
Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator examines the subtle meaning of the Full Moon in Aquarius for 2008, known as the Festival of Sirius. This is Leo's Full Moon, as the Moon is full in the sign opposing the Sun. The full moon of Leo (the full moon at Aquarius 24º21') is also a Lunar Eclipse that takes place on the 16th of August at 21:18 UT (17:18 PM EST in the US; 07:18 AM AEST on the morning of the 17th in Australia).
With the Olympics on at the moment and with all eyes on China, it is only appropriate that I take some time in this letter and have a look at what I see coming in the next year or so for that most populated land and her people. The reason for doing so takes on even more emphasis since the Olympics this time coincides with the Leo solar festival, with the Leo emphasis being laid upon individual effort, victory over the odds and being king or queen over one's chosen sphere of influence. As we know, Leo is the sign of the Regent or champion, as well as being the sign that most exemplifies the beginning of the path of self-discipline and discipleship – the path that ultimately leads to one's victory over the thrall of the seemingly endless cycle of lives and liberation into the Kingdom of Souls (the spiritual realms).
As we watch the games we see the flower of humanity's youth in many respects – young people, for the most part, in the prime of physical condition, having gone through years (often) of gruelling training, pushing themselves to the limits of their physical and often mental and emotional endurance. The fact that they are even at the games at all marks them as the elite in their chosen sport – champions whether they win or lose at the games, heroes in the lands they represent. We see 'Leo' every time we watch some Olympic event, because these people have achieved through sheer dint of their own self-effort and discipline. In a way, what they have done with their sport is what we should each do with our chosen lot in life. It may seem silly, but we should realize that every action we undertake is a potential discipline and thus can be a step on the path toward full enlightenment. That is the promise and highest aspect of Leo. So, it's time for a little story – an appetizer before the main course.
Sport was never my big thing when I was growing up. Surprised, are you? I mean, I enjoyed all the usual sorts of games that kids in a neighborhood usually get into, softball, kick-ball and the like. I was happiest, though, when we got on the bikes and just went exploring and mucking about. Kids could do that and parents could let them without fear in those days. Of course, we all had to be back home by 4:00 on weekdays so we could watch Superman and Mickey Mouse – you know, the really important things in life (I'm dating myself here). Not many younger kids I know have a real sort of passion for something that just totally consumes them, and we were all pretty much like that in the neighborhood. Just normal kids. Life was good. We were all very privileged and fortunate – not rich, but very fortunate. There were four kids in my family (none of us are kids any longer – just in spirit), but our family was a little bit different from the other families on the block. We had a Leo dad who was a university professor, and he had plans for his kids. Being a product of the Depression, he was bound and determined that we were going to have every opportunity in life, since he had to struggle. So, being a violinist himself, he started us all on violin pretty much as soon as we were able to hold the instrument on our own. My dad had his own string quartet for a few years there (I have the pictures to prove it), not that we were anything to brag about, but he gave us the opportunity and exposure to it. Like any good Leo, he set the example, showed us what to do and then left us to it in later years. He planted seeds. Some of those seeds sprouted. One of my brothers followed in his footsteps. I still play every now and then. My sister still plays when her kids allow and my dad started her kids on the instrument. My other brother plays the radio, but he turned out to be a very good mechanic.
A curious thing happens when one's hormones kick in at puberty, though. The higher Self 'moves upon the waters' in a way, and passions of all sorts begin to manifest, some good, some the bane of parents. My brother who went on to teach music developed a passion for drums when he reached puberty, and I for guitar. You guessed it – my brother and I spent long hours disturbing the neighbors. There was little peace in the house after my brother got his first drum set, nor after I built my first guitar amplifier. Yep, my dad had his own band then, instead of a string quartet. The problem was that my brother and I had a real passion for the music then and we were driven by it. The new-found love consumed us. I never remember my parents complaining, though. I suppose having us there at home doing something constructive was a sort of comfort and pride to them (My mother is a musician, too.) All our spare time was spent practicing in those few years. We were pretty good after a while. My brother went on to become a very fine percussionist in his university years. I played in bands for a while, but other things eventually called me away from the music – astrology for starters. The point is this, though: Through those teenage and early adult years, my brother and I were pretty much self-taught. We saw what we wanted. We took on the discipline to do it. We persevered with it and we achieved, and did very well. Self-discipline and self-effort paid off. Hey, it's a Leo letter. I have to blow my own horn a bit here (to make the point, you know?). What you see in Beijing with the athletes are yet further examples of the same thing – people who have a passion for what they do and who take on the discipline to achieve their goals – even to surpass those goals. Leo is about 'personal best' – the 'Light of the Soul' eventually manifesting in personal life.
The Heart of the Sun
Leo is unique among the rest of the zodiacal signs. Ask any Leo and they will tell you so. What makes it unique is the sheer amount of solar vitality that it can focus through an individual or nation. Leos are known for their ability to focus intently on things, and to bring light to bear on difficulties. It is one of the signs that 'overcomes'. The Sun is the ruler of Leo at all levels, and one of the characteristics of the sign is that it gives the 'will-to-illumine' – in other words, the drive to seek out knowledge, to experiment, and thus the need in the Leo type to justify the knowledge gained through experience. It is a sign that confers a most intense self-consciousness, and it does so in both the positive and negative sense of the term. It brings out a great sensitivity as a result, for the Leo type is always keenly aware of how they impact on the environment around them, and how that environment and its inhabitants reflect back to them.
It is said that all Leos “sorely need an imposed self-discipline. This leads to the perfection of which he/she is notably capable.” In Leo, we see ourselves as divine. It could be said that adolescence is a very Leonine time of life. It is when self-consciousness comes squarely to the fore, and often very painfully so for the adolescent. Self-image is very important then, as well as one's place within the peer group. The hormones have taken over the development of the physical vehicle and the 'Heart of the Sun', which expresses through Leo, makes its presence known. Ego begins to really flower in one's life at that time. Passions flare. Life begins to take a real sense of direction through the force/agency of desire in adolescence. Of course, I speak in generalities here.
What orthodox astrology never emphasizes or perhaps realizes is that Leo is one of the most occultly potent of the signs in terms of our Earth humanity. It is ruled by the cosmic system (Sirius, via Regulus – the 'Heart of the Lion') to which most life on this planet passes once it attains liberation (passes on to the realm of Spirit. This is beyond the ken of the 'average' spiritual master, if there is such a thing.) Sirius is Earth's 'spiritual home' – our destination before we step out of our little section of this galaxy altogether and on to bigger and better things. I will not get technical about it. Suffice it to say that once most of us are finished with our evolution and work in this solar system, we will progress on to Sirius, in a manner of speaking. The point to this information is to indicate the high state of attainment that Leo can represent in terms of human evolution. It leads one to the highest reaches of which human experience is possible. It also indicates a path or method toward attainment of those sublime realms.
To exemplify the highest Leo traits, one must be able to exhibit a personal freedom from outside control while at the same time practicing the most intense self-control and discipline. The Leo type must be able to stand alone and succeed in the face of all circumstance if they are to truly manifest the highest qualities of the sign. Leo, in human terms, gives us both the destination and the path there, whatever that destination might be. In Leo, we are the student and the Master, the objective and the path to it, the Knower and the known. With that, and with all the shining examples of Leo self-mastery before us on the tellie, let's have a bit of a look at China, especially in light of recent international events. I am going to leave politics out of this for the most part, except to indicate what is coming. What is happening there aside from the Olympics and what I see coming for China pains me with regard to all sides on the issues. But there is hope on all sides as well, as we will see.
The Little Red Book, Tiananmen Square, Beijing
The Cultural Revolution
Many Chinese may not remember the significance of 8 Aug in their recent past history (nor want to), but on that date in 1966 the seeds of the Cultural Revolution were sown in the passage by the CCP of the “Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (also known as “the 16 Points”). That legislation set the framework for the implementation of the Cultural Revolution, which elevated the already existent student movement into a national campaign for expunging the 'Four Olds': Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. The truth is that the Cultural Revolution was actually a power struggle within the communist party, spearheaded by Mao Zedong. We do not need to go into what actually happened then. History is clear enough on the matter. It was a disaster for China and brought the country to the brink of civil war, quite aside from the persecution of all religions and destruction of much of its rich historical treasures. The point to be made here is that history repeats itself in cycles and if we do not learn from our past, then we usually repeat it in some fashion, especially where Saturn is concerned (astrologically considered). So, what is being repeated now and in recent years for China or being brought forward for a final resolution?
The People's Republic of China, as a governmental entity, is about to undergo its second Saturn return, which takes place roughly every 29 years. The exact date of the upcoming Saturn return for China is 14 Sep 2008. The previous one took place on 10 Aug 1979 – three years after the official end of the Cultural Revolution with the arrest of the Gang of Four on 10 Oct 1976. The country was in the midst of reconstruction and healing in 1979. It had also just endured the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll (the Tangshan Earthquake) on 28 July 1976, following a Jupiter activation of the 14 May 1976 eclipse on China's 4th House cusp two weeks prior (Mars was exactly on the PRC Saturn by transit at the time of the quake, a fact which will lead to an examination of that Saturn point in a moment). China did indeed seem cursed in 1976 and the country was all-too-aware of the state of its face in the world arena at the time. It is undergoing a similar sort of self-examination in that regard now due to world attention being focused on it because of the clamp-downs in Tibet and East Turkistan. It has also just endured another massive earthquake (the May 12th 2008 quake).
China's Saturn Return
We should probably take note here that the chart for China (1 Oct 1949, 3:01 PM, Beijing) is a horoscope for the political entity that is the Chinese government, and not necessarily the horoscope for the populace of the land itself. The latter chart would be an ancient one because the culture of China has been in place for thousands of years. Nonetheless, the 1949 chart does reflect the destiny of the nation since it is the government of any nation that primarily oversees the direction of the peoples of the respective land. Saturn returns for any person or entity are of major importance because they mark times of culmination and turning within the psyche, individual or collective, and mark a point at which the tone for the life over the next 29 years is set, more or less.
At China's previous Saturn return sweeping changes were set in place by the CCP. We saw the institution of the economic reforms that have turned China around and brought it to potential superpower status in a few short years. Deng Xiaoping was on the rise politically, set to replace Hua Guofeng by 1980, and it was under Deng's leadership through the '80s that poverty levels in China dropped from a massive 53% in 1978 to less than 8% now. That is not bad, considering the fact China is the world's most populated country and has a host of internal ills working against its growth. We need to have a closer look at the natal position of China's Saturn, though, because Saturn in China's chart gives big clues as to the country's direction, just as it would in an individual's chart.
In January of 1964 Pluto made its first transit across the natal position of Saturn in the chart of the PRC. This was followed soon thereafter by a transit of Uranus across the same point in October of that year. Now, as an astrologer, I would really feel for any individual who had those two transits across their natal Saturn in such a short space of time and for so long (almost two years). It is a period marked by deep suspicions, frustrations, the urge to lash out with something new, feelings of confinement and huge subconscious projections at the world around one. It marks a time of very difficult transitions (Pluto) and change (Uranus). The two can be quite disorienting transits. In 1964 a schism had developed in the CCP over the disastrous effects of the 'Great Leap Forward' policies of Mao which had been in effect from 1958-1960. It is estimated that the famine those policies produced wiped out as many as 43 million people. As a result, Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi were trying to reconstruct the country in 1964 and marginalize Mao, but Mao had other ideas. About that time Mao had the state begin publishing of his 'Little Red Book', which was the most widely printed book of all time aside from the Bible and remained so until the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 (which was the year of Mao's death). In 1964 as well, China exploded its first thermonuclear device and in the two years up until the legislation by the CCP of the Cultural Revolution (basically, the whole of the time of the Uranus/Pluto transits over China's Saturn) there was a great struggle for power within the CCP – one reformist (Xioaping/Shaoqi) and the other reactionary (Maoist). The basic structures (Saturn) of the CCP were being challenged. With the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution Mao's power was assured and Deng Xiaoping was marginalized, being sent to work as a common laborer in a tractor factory.
Falun Gong Practitioners in Taiwan
I have glossed over a lot here in terms of Chinese history, but I have hopefully made the point that Saturn marks a very sensitive point in the Chinese consciousness. Transits by Pluto and Uranus to that point almost led to the ruin of the country due to the paranoia produced in the leadership, while the subsequent transit of Saturn over its own place in 1979 saw changes (restructuring, which Saturn returns often indicate) instituted that brought a complete turnaround for China and brought it squarely into the modern industrialized world. Other significant transits to China's Saturn include the 2007 Uranus opposition, which saw the slave scandal in the brickyards, the institution of the 'Reincarnation Application' (I'll leave you to look up that one for yourselves), growing unrest in Tibet, the execution of the State Food and Drug Administration over bribes and drug company scandals and the launch of an unmanned lunar orbiter in October 07.
The approach of the square to Saturn by Pluto in 2000, preceded by the Neptune transit over the Chinese ascendant and the Saturn square to the horizon saw the persecution and subsequent brutal torture and 're-education' of members of the Falun Gong sect . (Falun Gong was introduced in China in 1992 when Pluto crossed China's Midheaven and Jupiter transited China's Saturn – appropriate, wouldn't you say?) As an interesting side-note, the Tiananmen protests and the crackdown in Lhasa took place under Pluto's square to China's Mars/Pluto conjunction. All of this leads us to China today – so, what do we see?
In part two of this article, Malvin Artley continues his exploration of the esoteric meanings of the Full Moon in Aquarius for 2008, especially with regard to China and the tense situation in the Caucasus in the light of the Lunar Eclipse.
Read part two of The Leo Solar Festival