Crown of Hemlock and Nettles ~ Lunar Eclipse in Leo-January 31st, 2018

“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend

no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can

reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself

scourged by the sequent effects… the king

falls from bias of nature…”

-William Shakespeare’s King Lear (Act 1 Scene 2)

On the morning of January 31st, 2018 there will be a Full Moon lunar eclipse in Leo, a fire sign ruled by the Sun. As if the red shadows cast by the eclipse were not dramatic enough (Blood Moon) also know that it will be closer and brighter than normal (Supermoon), and that this is the second Full Moon of the month (Blue Moon).

It is fitting for a Lunar Eclipse in Leo to be endowed with such a baroque array of descriptions. For it is in the sign of Leo where the wisdom of “All the World is a Stage” rings most true.

The polarity between the Sun and Moon at the eclipse will open a dialogue between a radiant sense of subjective self (Leo) and the coolness of objectivity. (Aquarius)Suffice it to say that Lunar Eclipses are super magnified Full Moons that offer a shadowy portal between conscious and unconscious awareness. Thus, this eclipse will be auspicious for the spiritual growth of anyone who has become trapped in rigid assumptions or an over-identification with external ityities.

At this eclipse, the Moon in Leo will inspire a need to express the individual self with renewed power. But the Sun in Aquarius will demand that your self-expression somehow speak for the whole of humanity.

This eclipse will amplify the tension between the axis of Leo and Aquarius, casting more light and longer shadows upon the roles that you are playing in life. It is upon this axis that the strings of melodrama are tightened, for here the tension between self-importance (Leo) and total insignificance (Aquarius) are discovered to be two sides of the same story.

The sign of Leo is about developing the “Self” into a graceful artist of the instrument of life, crowned with courage, vitality, and genius. While developing the self into these ideal forms seems to be a noble cause, this Lunar Eclipse in Leo invites the observant eye of the Sun in Aquarius to critique your performance. In this case, you will be critiquing your own performance of Self.

Under the light of the Leo Moon, your sense of self-importance will become inflamed. You will feel that there must be a reason for being! But in this surging of passion, there is a wave of existential torment. Thus, you may find yourself in a scene of rejection, beating your head against the wall of a seemingly indifferent Universe.

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,

when we are sick in fortune,–often the surfeit

of our own behavior,–we make guilty of our

disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars…

This can be an agonizing experience as you may suddenly realize how false you have become. You will know which of your words and actions have become a pathetic imitation of life, some caricatured abstraction of feeling.

If you think this level of insight into yourself might drive you crazy, know that eclipses are meant to initiate dramatic transformations in consciousness. Thus, it may very well feel like a storm of madness arises to devastate your former vision of the world. If you have faith that this darkness will be overcome by a glorious sunrise, then you can let the drama play out as it will, perhaps even taking pleasure in this major shift in awareness.

“Who is it that can tell me who I am?”

During a tempestuous time such as this, a symbolic story can offer the guidance and inspiration needed to weather any emotional storm. And anything from the repertoire of William Shakespeare’s plays could be used to demonstrate this lunar eclipse in Leo’s exploration of the Self. However, for this occasion there is no better story than King Lear.

Shakespeare’s version of King Lear is a meditation on the dissolution and destruction of an ideal solar image, where the father king and ruler of a great land is shaken out of his fixed identity to discover the pain of wisdom and truth.

“Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:

Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.”

The drama of King Lear begins with the old and retiring king asking his three daughters to publicly declare how much they love him. He promises to reward them with power and land in proportion to their demonstrations of love.

The hideous pretension and arrogance of King Lear’s request is understood by his youngest daughter, Cordelia, who simply refuses to cooperate. She knows that genuine love could never be used for political gain.

To her father, she says:

“I love your Majesty

According to my bond; nor more nor less.”

For refusing to make a performance out of her love, King Lear banishes Cordelia and the kingdom is divided between his two manipulative and power-hungry daughters.

The real drama begins when King Lear’s worldly status becomes eclipsed by a cloud of darkness. Predictably, he is betrayed by his evil daughters, who at their first opportunity strip him of his land and power. In the wake of a lost battle, King Lear goes mad, howling at the gods. A great storm arrives, filled with “thought-executing fires,” and an “all shaking thunder” which ravages his mind completely.

No, I’ll not weep.

(Storm and tempest)

I have full cause of weeping, but this heart

Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws

Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!”

 (Act 2, Scene 4, lines 279-286)


Up until this breaking point, King Lear’s arrogance serves as a great lesson to all. When you begin living in service to your own arrogance, you become a tyrant. In this state, you deny everything that challenges your righteousness. Like a hardened artery, a tyrant’s reality tunnel constricts into a two-dimensional world of black and white. “You’re either for me or against me.”

To learn more about reality tunnels and how to be more flexible of mind, check out my mini-course Reality Check: The Evolutionary Power of Saturn in Capricorn.

When you let yourself go like this, you become just like King Lear, rejecting real advice, loyalty and love in favor of pretense.

No longer able to banish the forces of nature that oppose him, King Lear submits to being stripped down. In his madness, the entitled sense of self (Leo) dissolves, scattering into the winds. It is in the realm of Aquarius where tyrants shapeshift into wandering prophets.

Aquarius is the domain of heirophants and heretics. Upon this lonely path, King Lear wanders far into the wilderness, lingering on the edges of thought in dark places of exile.

In these Aquarian realms, his golden crown is exchanged for hemlock and nettles. And with this new openness of mind, he becomes wizened.

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”

In his exile, King Lear finds that he can empathize with even the lowliest beggar and for his pains, his power to discern between truth and deceit is restored.

“Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.”

It is in this way that King Lear rediscovers his humanity. Being set apart from his throne is what teaches him to embody ideal solar qualities once again. He is no longer posturing, but becomes genuinely heartfelt, courageous, and compassionate.

Much like the celestial spectacle of a lunar eclipse, Shakespeare’s King Lear illustrates a spiritual progression from darkness to light. The soul (sol) of King Lear is embedded in the hero’s tragic quest to rediscover his core Self. Through the eclipsing forces of tragedy, Lear’s power, status, and rigid assumptions are all dissolved, like dross burned away to reveal life’s quintessential purpose: love.

Though it is unlikely that your life will take such a starkly dramatic turn as King Lear describes, the ultimate purpose of this Full Moon eclipse in Leo is to remember that whatever layers of artifice and pretension you have acquired, there is a beating bleeding heart that is bursting with real love underneath.

There is a light and it never goes out.

Knowing that your creative powers are also magnified by rhythms and cycles of nature, it is important to keep in tune with auspicious moments for healing and purification.

The transformative energies of this lunar eclipse may very well reveal some of your own egomaniacal tendencies or pretensions. Even if you feel disquieted and uncomfortable, know that this eclipse is a profound moment for spiritual growth and healing.

Though Aquarius season offers only the pale light of winter, let this eclipse anticipate the eventual return of your place in the Sun. Reclaim your devotion to solar virtues, knowing that your heart sometimes must break in order to be made whole again.