"Who can doubt the nature of the monstrous Lion, and the pursuits he prescribes for those born beneath his sign? The lion ever devises fresh fights and fresh warfare on animals, and lives on spoil and pillaging of flocks. The sons of the Lion are filled with the urge to adorn their proud portals with pelts and to hang up on their walls the captured prey, to bring the peace of terror to the woods, and to live upon plunder. …they display mangled limbs at the shop-front, slaughter to meet the demands of luxury, and count it gain to kill." [Astronomica, Manilius 1 st Cent AD ‘Those born under the Sign of Leo’]
Walter Palmer, the American dentist who shot and killed Cecil the lion (star attraction of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park) no doubt rues the day he decided to live out the Leo archetype so aptly described by Manilius 2000 years ago. Palmer and his family have gone into hiding, his dental clinic has closed down and he’s probably the most vilified person in the world right now. But whatever you think of Palmer’s lion hunting exploits, he is hardly alone in his love of trophy hunting – Safari Club International, the world’s leading competitive trophy hunting club, has more than 50,000 members and according to Palmer, what he did was perfectly legal!
So why has he been singled out and made a scapegoat for everything from being rich and privileged, to being a cruel and corrupt animal killer to being convicted of sexual harassment ten years ago? Perhaps we can look to Leo the lion for answers? Palmer shot, killed, skinned and beheaded poor Cecil in July when Jupiter was transiting the final degrees of fire sign Leo. Jupiter is the king of the gods and Leo king of the jungle – put these two together and ego energies are bound to run high, though those in the background who are neither kings nor gods may start to feel resentful. The Latin word for ‘head’ is ‘caput’ with its derivation ’capo’ meaning ‘head’ or ‘chief’. When we cut off someone’s head, or ‘decapitate’ them, we symbolically take their power and become the new king. This surely is the underlying motivation behind trophy hunting and indeed behind the mass beheadings by ISIS, many of which have occurred under Jupiter in Leo. Another historical period marked by mass beheadings was the French Revolution when disenfranchised and angry Parisians decapitated kings, queens and noblemen with the guillotine. The French Revolution (slogan Liberty, Equality & Fraternity) began in 1789 when Jupiter was in Leo.
Last month (August) Jupiter shifted into humble earth sign Virgo, a zodiac sign where he is considered to be ‘in detriment’ meaning ‘not fully effective’. The king’s power is weakened and his hands tied. But is this such a bad thing? If Jupiter represents our collective consciousness (Jupiter spends approximately a year in each sign of the zodiac), we are currently shifting from Jupiter in Leo (glitz, glamour, ego-consciousness, creativity, exciting possibilities, feeling special and unique) to Jupiter in Virgo (healing, nourishing, sharing, humility, respect, environmental-consciousness, service and mind-body balance). The symbol for Virgo is a maiden holding a sheaf of grain, representing her connection with the land, the harvest and the food we eat. On a broader stage, the fixed star Regulus, a royal star of Persia, sometimes called ‘The Lion’s Heart’, has also recently shifted from Leo to Virgo for the first time in over 2000 years.
Many astrologers have written about this change in archetype from proud masculine Leo to the more humble feminine sign of Virgo and what this might mean for humanity over the next two millennia. Most of us know that we have to take better care of our planet, or risk driving ourselves and other species into extinction and the ‘feminine’ as a spiritual archetype is gradually beginning to be embraced and integrated into many religious traditions. Meanwhile, powerful elites and societies ruled by money and power are coming under the microscope (cf USA Federal Reserve) and protestors are taking to the streets. With Regulus and more recently Jupiter moving into Virgo, we are all being called to create a better world. Ironically, Cecil the Lion’s untimely demise has been a catalyst for some of these changes.
In the past couple of months:
-UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to step up government efforts to protect wildlife.
-Nearly 400,000 people have signed a petition asking for Delta airlines to stop allowing hunting trophies as cargo.
- US Senator Bob Menendez announced he would introduce legislation to discourage trophy hunting.
Cecil’s death has also started a public debate about trophy hunting’s relationship to conservation, and who really makes money off the practice. It has brought up issues about the role of elites and land reform in Zimbabwe. And it has made people ask why a lion’s death has attracted more attention than other more important Third World issues.
With the shift from Leo to Virgo, several of our own Australian politicians and sportsmen have been forced to face difficult questions about their own sense of privilege and entitlement. Helicopter ride anyone? In the future lion killers and fat cats like Mr Palmer will eventually go the way of the French monarchy, while those who adopt an attitude of service to the sacred and help heal planet earth and her precious resources will be the new kings, queens and heroes. RIP Cecil (whose name means ‘blindness’).