The Sabian symbol for the 20th degree of Leo shows "Zuni Indians performing a ritual to the Sun." At their great solstice festivals, the Zuni of the American Southwest sanctify every aspect of their existence and every part of the natural world, linking them all back to the divine source.
The Sun's radiant power - both life-giving and death-dealing -- evokes our natural sense of awe. "The sun IS God," said a Native American shaman to C. G. Jung; "everyone can see that." This direct perception of divinity in nature is not so easily available to people whose spiritual roots are in religions of the book and who live in the abstractions of the modern world. Yet the experience of the holy as an exalted, radiant source of life is still accessible, even though it often appears in a debased form, for example as celebrity-worship. Solar deities are often "sons," bringing new life out of death and darkness, just as the physical Sun is reborn each year at the Winter solstice. Renewal through the sun/son (or daughter) is a natural enough experience; I noticed it in the bank this afternoon when a customer brought in his three-month old baby boy and the whole place lit up! And I know of many dreams of giving birth in the midst of unpromising circumstances which heralded a renewal in the dreamer's life.
The Moon's degree, 20 Aquarius, is symbolized as "a large white dove bearing a message." In Biblical religion the dove is associated with the Spirit of God which moved upon the waters at the Creation, which addressed the Hebrews through the prophets and great leaders of ancient Israel, and which descended from Heaven "like a dove" at the baptism of Jesus. After the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to his followers at Pentecost and remains ever with them as a comforter, guide and advocate.
Each of these degree images opens a door to profound spiritual realities. Taken together they show the spiritual force of the Fire and Air elements and epitomize the qualities of Leo and Aquarius.
Our planetary pattern this Aquarius Full Moon shows the Sun royally placed in his own sign between the benefic planets Venus and Jupiter. These three will continue their regal procession across the sky, drawing closer together until August 21st when they all converge in the 29th degree of Leo. So it's a good time to perform rituals in honor of the Sun and to seek the "son" of rebirth in our own hearts. Jupiter brings wisdom, theological weight and a sense of grandeur to this project, while Venus supports the liturgical arts, inspiring ceremonies that link human consciousness to the ineffable through the senses. Perhaps you'll be inspired to create home-made rituals, or simply go to church or temple to renew your spirit this season.
Opposite the royal Leo entourage we find the Moon and Neptune in Aquarius, the Fixed Air sign. Here ideas become clarified and visions stabilized. Aquarius comes to us as the moving, and sometimes overpowering, force of wind, breath and spirit. "In the beginning was the Word," and in Biblical cosmology the universe was created through this Word, or Logos, which gave order, logic and differentiation to chaotic matter. This Spirit remains with us as the coherence of the world and our capacity to understand it. While in formal religious tradition the Spirit is often depicted in MGM style (with a cast of thousands and big declarations from the mountaintop), it is also the still, small voice within and the subtle capacity to discern what is emerging in the present moment. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit implies that creation and revelation continue. The Spirit enables us to interpret and renew the traditional religious teachings in each generation. It also guides our feet where tradition fails or the rules do not apply.
For your Full Moon meditation, first turn to your world with eyes wide open and allow its full grandeur to smack you into awe. Maybe you are a nature-lover and will be stirred to reverence by the Sun itself, the Moon and stars, rocks, hills, great trees, tiny flowers, noble animals; or maybe it will come to you through music or poetry, great architecture, or the faces of little children. Keep looking until you are awestruck. Let yourself feel the wonder of the fact that you and the cosmos exist at all.
With your heart thus awakened, retire to a quiet place where you can sit and observe your own breath until you sense the subtle breath of the cosmos and the fluttering of the wings of the dove. Welcome the messenger and ask for its aid in understanding the world, your place in it, and the next steps on your path. Hold close to your heart the awareness that this subtle intelligence is always as near, as steady and as life-giving as your own breath.
(Look for the Virgo New Moon August 27, 2003)